Bownet's own Cathy Weatherred, a Texas native documented her experience helping with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. While many were questioning how they could help, Cathy was gathering items, fueling her truck and heading into the storm. We are proud to have someone with such a giving spirit and drive to help others be apart of our Bownet family.
I am a proud native Texan, born and raised in Irving, Texas, the “true home of the Dallas Cowboys”, as we like to say. I was raised loving my Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers. Most of my best friends were made playing fastpitch softball at Southwest Park as members of the Irving Girls Softball League (who remembers the Rocket Slide?!). When we weren’t playing softball, we were water skiing, riding the Wetbike or the Surfjet, or just cruising in the boat at Cedar Creek Lake, where I was driving boats before I could drive cars. I was blessed to be recruited to play Division I softball at North Texas State University (Go Mean Green!), and my love of softball continued later in life through coaching travel ball and as a volunteer assistant coach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
It is no surprise that I have found a career that keeps me involved in the game. At Bownet Sports, I manage collegiate and travel ball organizations as well as event sales with my California counterpart, Sarah Adams, and so it was that I was driving to Iowa City, Iowa, on Friday, August 25, 2017, as Hurricane Harvey made landfall overnight near Rockport, Texas.
Saturday, August 26, 2017: I am far away from my native home working at a PGF Heartland tournament for Bownet Sports in Iowa City, Iowa. My day starts at 6:30 AM with a quick breakfast then it’s off to the park. I work at the park all day, and it’s a little chilly and drizzling with rain off and on. I find myself grumbling about the weather, oblivious to what is happening in my home state. I leave the park, get a bite to eat, and return to my hotel room at 8:30 PM. I log in to my DirectTV app to watch the Connor McGregor fight, but fall asleep before it starts.
Sunday, August 27, 2017: I am up at 6:30 AM for a quick shower, breakfast, and back to the park. Later that afternoon, I pack up and start the 4-hour drive back to St. Louis, Missouri. Reception is poor, so I listen to music from my phone. I get home, visit with the family, and go to bed.
Monday, August 28, 2017: I turn on the TV and can’t believe how bad it is. I am glued to the screen. I have not been so unable to stop watching live coverage since Jessica McClure was stuck in the well in 1987. I see all the water rescues and calls for volunteers with boats. It’s Texans saving Texans. I want to help so badly. I keep thinking, “I am a good boat driver, I could really help save people. My boat is a competition ski boat and would not be an asset, but who do I know that has a johnboat I could borrow?” I am seriously trying to figure out how to get there tonight and help. Eventually, I realize that by the time I could locate a boat and drive down to Houston, the desperate need for boating help will have passed, but I wonder what else I can do to help. I can’t just sit here…
Relief organizations have posted lists of desperately needed items: bottled water, formula, diapers, bottles, toilet paper, canned goods, industrial trash bags, toothpaste, toothbrushes, batteries, flashlights—this is something I CAN do. The wheels start turning.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017: I call my boss, Zach Garcia, and Bownet’s president, Jack Lucas. I have their full support to collect and personally make a delivery of relief supplies to Houston using the Bownet truck and trailer.
Wednesday, August 30, 2017: I empty the trailer’s inventory in my storage unit, acquire donated magnets for the truck from Signarama St. Charles, and get an unscheduled oil change and tire rotation at Poage Chevrolet in Wentzville to prep the truck for the drive.
Thursday, August 31, 2017: I make a post on Facebook asking for donations.
Tuesday, September 5, 2017: After driving from St. Louis to an overnight stop at my nephew’s house in Midlothian, TX, I am driving toward Houston. I call Connie May, GM of the Houston Scrap Yard Dawgs, 2017 National Professional Fastpitch League Champions, to see how we might work together in the relief effort. We decide to team up with Karen Wright, the United States Specialty Sports Association director in Houston, and Harvey’s Angels to distribute the donations I brought and the ones the Dawgs will collect at the Scrap Yard on Saturday. Traffic is worse than the normal horrible Houston traffic as some neighborhoods are still flooded and some highways are still closed. As I drive into the infamous Houston traffic pulling my 16-foot trailer identified as Harvey relief, people are honking and waving and mouthing, “Thank you!”
Wednesday, September 6, 2017: I drop the trailer at the Scrap Yard and head to Bloomington, Texas, a small town 13 miles south of Victoria, Texas, not far from the coast, with a population under 2,500 people. My niece in Midlothian, TX had a friend who volunteered a few days earlier and indicated they needed all the help they could get in the form of manpower. She gave me the name and number of a man with the First Baptist Church in Bloomington.
Wednesday evening around 9:30 PM: I pull into town. The Dairy Queen is the first building I see and is missing nearly all its red-tiled roof, but it is open and serving the prayer group from the church. Palm trees are uprooted, laid over and splitting homes in two. Intact roofs are unusual. Piles of debris line the streets. Electricity was just restored yesterday. The water is still undrinkable, and a boil order exists. Javier meets me at the church and sets me up with a place in the loft of the church hall to sleep. This is the same building where all donations are sorted and distributed.
Thursday, September 7, 2017 Work begins at 8 AM: I am joining the high school football coach’s wife, the church leaders, their spouses, and several members who are ignoring the damage to their own homes to serve others. I spend the next two days unloading and sorting donated items from as close as the town down the road to as far away as Nebraska and distributing to those in need. We run out of paper towels and lo and behold, an unexpected truck full of donations with paper towels! Things like that keep happening over and over. People come in that have nothing left, just looking for water and something to bring their family to eat.
Friday, September 8, 2017: After a day of serving the community of Bloomington, I drive back to Conroe.
Saturday, September 9, 2017: The Scrap Yard Dawgs, Bownet Sports, and Harvey’s Angels collect donations at the Scrap Yard and load them in the Harvey’s Angels U-haul to be distributed to those in need.
I can’t express how grateful I am that I work for a company that allowed me to follow my heart and assist in a small way. I was not able to be a first responder saving people from the floods like I wanted to, and my experience was a little harder, a little dirtier, and a more mosquito-filled trip than I expected. Even so, I left Texas confident that I’d done all I was able to do thanks to the cooperation and support of Bownet Sports, the Houston Scrap Yard Dawgs, and the First Baptist Church of Bloomington. God Bless Texas!