HURRICANE HARVEY – Witnessing My Son’s Transformation from Child to Man during Harvey

Hurricane Harvey One-Year Reflection

The news had been very clear that Hurricane Harvey would be a major rain event in the Houston area.

Everything had been secured as best it could around the house. As the father and protector of the house I closely watched the water level around our house. I was scared but I had to be brave for the family. I watched the water levels rise and fall through the night.

Called into Action

Early the next morning, my oldest son, Christian purposely came down the stairs and said, “Dad there are people stranded in their houses a mile from here and begging for help! We must do something!”

My son and I took his boat and rescued 40 people and 10 dogs that day.

As I reflect on Harvey a year later, I am forever changed in the way I view my son.

Maturity in the face of Adversity

Christian has always been an energetic kid with a great heart, but he went from a child to a man during Hurricane Harvey for several reasons.

First, he showed maturity in his motivation to help those in need, despite the danger. He initiated the action that lead to saving lives. He told his scared father, “We must do something!”

Next, he showed maturity in his focused attention in getting to the people in immediate danger. I must admit I was scared to death as we launched his boat in the middle of the street. If my son was scared I never saw it on his face. He navigated the boat and communicated with the other first responders as we rescued family after family. It was exhausting, but he didn’t let fatigue cloud his judgment or his relentless pursuit of those waiting to be rescued.

Lastly, he showed maturity in his Christ-like compassion for the survivors once they got in the boat. “It will be alright.” “We are going to get you to dry land.” These were just two of the comments he made. When he pulled the boat up to people’s houses, you could see the look of utter desperation in their faces. When they got into the boat, the fear melted away. This transformation was in large part to the way Christian met them with confidence and compassion.

A True Hero

Christian will always be my son and I will always be his dad. What changed that day was Christian went from being my little boy to a man of God.

God bless you son for stepping up and being a true hero!

About the Author

Captain Jay Ward has been recognized as a “Harvey Hero” by the Houston Chronicle and Shell, the energy and petrochemical company.

Captain Jay Ward is currently serving as the Corps Officer of our Northwest Corps Community Center. Before this appointment, he was the Director of the Adult Rehabilitation Center and Family Stores here in Houston. Captain Ward has been with The Salvation Army since 1997 and served in Greenville, Mississippi; Montgomery, Alabama; Odessa, Texas; and Miami, Florida.

Captain Ward is the proud father of four children ages 22, 19, 17 and 9.