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Peterson Space Observer

Helping after the Hurricane

(Courtesy photo) Sabine Pass, Texas — A boat run aground in Sabine Pass, Texas, Sept. 9, 2017, after Hurricane Harvey struck the greater Houston Area in August, 2017. The hurricane initially hit Houston on Aug. 25, 2017, and continued to make landfall two more times before moving back out into the Gulf of Mexico.

By Steve Kotecki

21st Space Wing Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  —  While Hurricane Harvey was leaving its mark on the greater Houston area, Airman 1st Class Spenser Allison, 21st Communications Squadron red switch technician, was in Arizona attending a job training class. Allison, a Houston resident, knew his family was threatened by the storm, and he was anxiously awaiting news from his relatives.

When the storm petered out and Allison finally heard from his family, he knew he needed to get home to his family and his community. After talking with his supervisor and noncommissioned officer in charge he took some leave to go see what was left of his hometown.

A week after Irma caused an estimated $180 billion worth of damage according to Moody’s Analytics, Allison arrived at his family’s home.

“You don’t understand the destruction of something like this until you see it,” said Allison. “I’ve known this area my entire life, and it was almost unrecognizable.”

Besides just the physical change in the area the first thing Allison noted was the smell.

“All that water, mixed with storm drain water, sewage and all the other stuff made the whole area smell like a swamp or marsh,” Allison said.

Allison knew when he got home he wasn’t going to expect much to be left. He immediately started to see who needed help.

The first place he went was to a friend’s mother’s house.

“We just started tearing everything out, all the furniture, the carpets, cabinets, drywall, everything had water damage. We tore the house down to the bare studs,’ Allison said.

All of this needs to come out so that mold doesn’t start growing in the house.

This became a pattern throughout his time at home. He’d help someone demo their house, then move onto the next one.

He helped out at his church, handing out food, water and clothing to members of the congregation.

“It’s something I felt obligated to do, I’ll always love my town so when something like this happens I just have to help out,” said Allison.

“He wanted to help with his family, and with what was going on that was an easy decision,” said Staff Sgt. Tim Hawks, 21st CS red switch technician and Allison’s supervisor.

Allison credits his desire to go help his community to his Air Force training.

“Joining the Air Force is about being part of something bigger than yourself, it’s realizing that small acts can make a difference,” said Allison. “Why should I rely on someone else to help my community when I could go there and do it myself?”

The damage done to Houston will take a lot of money and time to repair, but with people like Airman Allison’s help it’ll get done.

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