Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the southeastern Texas coast on August 25th, and days later it still poses a dangerous threat to residents in Houston and the surrounding areas. In addition to the 130 mph winds that swept ashore as the hurricane roared into Texas, the amount of forecasted rain was a major concern. Since the storm has been downgraded slightly, there have been thousands of high-water rescues.
While KHOU reporter Brandi Smith and her photographer Mario Sandoval were on air, covering the historic flooding happening in Houston, they saw a truck driver in a potentially deadly situation.
KHOU was one of many stations reporting on Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area.
Brandi Smith was reporting on an elevated highway in Houston when she noticed a tractor-trailer down below.
“The lights are going on this truck and the windshield wipers are going and as we get a little closer, it does look like there is someone inside,” Smith said while on air. “There is movement inside of this truck.”
Just as she and her photographer noticed the water rising inside the cab of the truck, a sheriff’s vehicle with an airboat drove by them.
Smith and her photographer spotted a truck driver in dire need of help.
While still on air, Smith ran to catch up with the sheriff’s truck and asked if they were able to help the man down below.
“There is a truck driver stuck here in about 10 feet of water,” she said.
The passengers in the sheriff’s vehicle were unaware of the truck driver on the road below, but they did not hesitate when asked if they could save him.
A Harris County Sheriff’s Office vehicle drove by and Smith flagged them down, asking if they could help.
As the situation was unfolding, Smith remained on air, describing the situation. In fact, she was the only one from KHOU that was on air. That’s because her news station, KHOU, was in the process of evacuating.
Water had started seeping into the first floor of the news station, and everyone in the building moved up to the second floor. But the flooding continued to get worse, despite floodgates surrounding the building, and everyone had to evacuate.
That didn’t stop Smith and Sandoval from keeping their camera rolling. They filmed everything leading up to the boat rescue and the rescue itself as though they were on air. Unfortunately for live viewers, the KHOU signal cut out just as the rescue was about to take place.
The two person crew put their boat in the water and set out to rescue the trapped driver.
Smith later shared the video of the rescue and the moment the truck driver reached dry ground on her Facebook.
“We kept going and rolling until the camera’s battery died, not knowing we’d been knocked off the air,” Smith said.
The truck driver was rescued just in time.
As Smith narrated the rescue, you can hear her start to get emotional as the driver is pulled to safety. It was reportedly only a year ago that a man had been in a similar situation and unfortunately lost his life.
“And his fate will not be the same as the man who lost his life here a year ago in almost the same situation,” she reported.
The video of the broadcast before the rescue and the video of the rescue itself have since gone viral, and it’s easy to see why.