The Liberty Gazette
September 26, 2017Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
We had planned to bring you wonderful stories from Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia, but unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey’s deluge ruined that. Ten days of Vacation Croatia turned into four days of Vacation Rodeway Inn, Humble. Trapped on our way to the airport shortly before it closed, thinking we’d get out just in the nick of time, there was no place to go but the next hotel parking lot. We have nothing to complain about. While so many lost so much in the floods, our house was untouched. That fact is due to the superheroes who saved Liberty from becoming part of an enlarged San Jacinto river bottom.
Breaking from the world of aviation, we want to thank those we know of who spent days saving the levee around Travis Park, and ultimately the city.
These are the people to whom we are grateful that we had a house to come home to when we could finally escape Humble:
Water Control and Improvement District (WCID) #5 members, James Poitevent, Skeet Raggio, and James Leonard. James Poitevent was at the levee from Sunday morning on through the week. He oversaw the entire operation like Mel Gibson in the middle of the firefight in “We Were Soldiers”. With his contacts in construction and the oilfield, he raised up a mighty army to face down Harvey’s attack.
The other two WCID members, Walt Patterson and Victor Lemelle, held the fort in Ames, watching over ditches affecting Ames and the Liberty Municipal Airport.
Alton Fregia, of Daisetta, brought five tractors and numerous men who worked twelve-hour shifts. They made a formidable team.
We were in trouble, folks. Serious trouble. Had it not been for the community coming together, bringing equipment and manpower, most of the city would likely have been under water.
Arnold Smart, of Smart Oilfield Service, brought pumps, as did Curtis Hudnall of Curtis & Son Vacuum Service. Dwight Lumpkins, of Clay Mound Sporting Center, brought two pumps. Dwayne Johnson, of Johnson’s Trucking brought a track hoe and himself. John Hebert, lifetime superhero, supplied fuel for all these vehicles.
Oscar Cooper, of Cooper Electric, was there from Sunday morning on, trying to keep an ailing pump running, one of two owned by the city and the WCID.
David Chandler, of Oilfield Welding and Fabrication in Daisetta, brought his expertise and equipment, and we’d have been bad off if he hadn’t. David used a plasma cutter to cut steel plating to cover a grated hole so the water wouldn’t blow up through a drain.
Tim Killion, of Texas Armory, flew drone reconnaissance for an aerial view of water levels.
City Manager, Gary Broz and City Engineer, Tom Warner were just as dedicated to the safety of Liberty and stayed on the scene during the critical time.
Surely there are others unnamed here, but no less heroic. Thanks are inadequate for what our neighbors did to save our city.