Among the many moving photographs taken during the rescue efforts after Hurricane Harvey, the scene of Bush School Senior Lecturer Richard MacNamee carrying a girl to safety captured by Getty Images, shows the danger he and other volunteers went through to save flood victims.
MacNamee, who teaches courses on government intelligence operations, terrorism and counterinsurgency, is a British Army Special Forces veteran who served on numerous combat operations in Germany, Northern Ireland, the Middle East and Afghanistan. He was accompanied on this rescue by Bush School graduates Lucas McHam and Forest Clark (Veteran), both class of 2016. They brought along several boats and a high-water vehicle, all of which were sourced through personal contacts.
“When it became clear that the hurricane was going to make a second landfall, we decided to head east to the Beaumont-Port Arthur area,” MacNamee said. “We were stationed right at the water’s edge, near the Memorial Baptist Church in Port Arthur. Our mission was to get folks out of harm’s way and transported to a safe shelter. Our boats made many trips to various locations, finding and getting people out of apartments and other facilities. This young girl is just one of many children I saw who were clearly traumatized by what was happening.”
MacNamee’s extensive military experience, as well as his work in crisis management, came into play as the day progressed, he said.
“We saw elderly people, children, and whole families who not only had lost their homes and possessions, but were also unsure where they would be going; so understandably there was a lot of confusion,” MacNamee said. “We did our best to calm their fears, but nerves were pretty frayed; and it was especially hard on the children. The flood waters were toxic to say the least, which presented another danger to those working to save people.”
Following the work in Port Arthur, MacNamee and his crew came to Houston to stage in an area in West Houston in order to be able to assist with any rescues of people who were stranded when water from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs was released.
“It was very difficult and tiring work, but rewarding,” MacNamee said. “When you see the resilience of people who have just lost everything, it makes you grateful and willing to do whatever is necessary to help them. What was on display was the leadership and service creed of former graduate students like Forest and Lucas who admirably displayed the essence of the quiet professional doing what just needed to be done. They made me proud.”