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Friendswood resident saves family, and hamster, after full day of rescues

August 20, 2018

Mary Kay Guidry was watching a movie with her 8-year-old grandson, Lane, on Saturday evening when Hurricane Harvey’s rains reached her Friendswood home. She kept getting up to look out the back windows, where her property meets Clear Creek. The back yard seemed fine.

An hour later, Guidry and her husband were stunned to see water coming in from the front. Within 30 minutes, it had reached their waists.

Away from his mom to spend the night with his grandparents for the night, Lane was scared.

The family moved to the garage to seek refuge in the bed of their pickup truck, and Guidry called the deacons at her church who were rescuing members from flooded homes by boat. She learned a boat could no longer reach them because the creek’s waters had trapped the homes on her block. “The option to leave was gone,” Guidry said. There was no way out.

Around this time, Michael Brandt, 40, was returning to his parents’ home, next door to the Guidrys. Because the creekside homes had flooded during Tropical Storm Allison, Brandt —who works in safety and rescue at refineries and chemical plants — had spent the day helping neighbors move to higher ground. He was making his final trip to retrieve a hamster a friend had forgotten.

That’s when he spotted the Guidrys, who were huddled with three more neighbors in the truck bed. The truck was rocking from the water’s current, Brandt recalled. “Everyone was crying. It was like a bad dream.”

Brandt reacted quickly, borrowing a flashlight and telling them about a canoe he had seen tied up in a neighbor’s yard.

“He didn’t seem afraid at all,” Guidry said. “There was no fear. No hesitance.”

It took Brandt, who is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, 40 minutes to return with the aluminum dinghy he found three doors down.

The water was moving “deadly fast” and was up to his neck, Brandt said. He steadied the dingy while the Guidrys put their grandson in. The group parted ways with Brandt and made their way with the boat to Wedgewood Elementary, where they stayed for the night. Brandt went back for the hamster.

“Without the boat, there was no way,” Guidry said. “He truly saved our lives.”

Five days later, the Guidrys reunited with Brandt. They tearfully hugged and thanked him.

“Our whole street was like a family,” said Brandt, who misses the camaraderie. Many of the families - including his parents and the Guidrys - have moved because of the damage to their homes and fear of future flooding.

“There’s no way in hell I would have left anybody behind,” he said.”

The hamster that led to the Guidrys’ rescue survived, too.

houstonheroes@chron.com

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