LEE COUNTY, Ala. — A local attorney is being recognized for leaving his practice behind for days to help hurricane victims in Texas. In the wake of deadly Hurricane Harvey, he says helped rescue dozens with his trusted boat.
“It went from no water and every thing seeming normal to just water all the way up to the eves of houses,” says Nick Palerino.
Palerino, an Auburn attorney, felt compelled to go and help the thousands of flood victims in need. He and about nine others packed up their boats and headed to Houston last Monday night.
“Google Navigation worked perfect..you knew exactly where you needed to go and you can see everything mapped out in front of you but you might hit a car with your boat or whatever else…we hit several cars that we just didn’t see until we were on top of them,” says Palerino.
Palerino says he and the crew arrived in Texas Tuesday night. He says, the area that needed the most help at the time was Port Arthur. Not even a full 24 hours of being in Texas, something else tragic happened.
“Hurricane Harvey had made landfall in Port Arthur that night,” says Palerino.
Also on Wednesday, Palerino says his friend saw a Facebook post, asking for help in Port Arthur.
“Was asking someone to please help her grandparents they were trapped in Port Arthur and the water was rising,” says Palerino.
Palerino says he plugged the address into his phone and made his way to the area listed on the post.
“We didn’t really have a plan we just drove in to Port Arthur trying to help because that was literally the eye of the storm. It was still there whenever we arrived,” says Palerino.
Palerino says more than 100 people came out from the flooded Port Arthur neighborhood.
“And I asked them I said why are you guys still here why didn’t you leave and they said that when they went to bed that night everything was normal there wasn’t any flooding and then sometime in the night the water came into their house and by daylight it was bellybutton deep,” says Palerino.
Thankfully Palerino was able to rescue many in that neighborhood, including the grandparents referenced on Facebook.
“Had there not been any response from the National Guard or Fire Rescue or first responders those people still would’ve been okay because there were thousands and thousands of individuals that just dropped everything and showed up with their boat..just put their lives on hold to come help,” says Palerino.
Palerino says this alone made him feel even better about being an American.
Palerino says he and friends were in Texas for about five days. He says it was not uncommon to work 12 hour days sometimes longer. Palerino says there was a nearby church in Louisiana that provided food, shelter and fuel for all the folks who traveled to Texas, to help those in need.