As we watched the devastation and complete destruction and disruption of the lives of the dear folks who dwell on the Gulf Coast, the best in all of us emerged and it was very heartening and humbling to witness.

As we watched the devastation and complete destruction and disruption of the lives of the dear folks who dwell on the Gulf Coast, the best in all of us emerged and it was very heartening and humbling to witness.

As I watched the endless videos of amazing rescues, like the individuals who formed a human chain to rescue an elderly man from his truck and the man who literally picked him up to carry him to safety, or the Coast Guard rescuing families with children from the rooftops of their flooded homes and finally, caring folks from right here in Runnels County going there with boats and supplies to help with rescue efforts, my heart swells.

One individual posted on Facebook that this enormous tragedy had at least done one thing – it had- at least for the moment, ended the divisiveness that we have all felt in recent months. And we all became what we are, a part of the “human” family. Unfortunately families, Texans and the nation are grieving for those that perished in this storm.

Guys with local ties like veterans Wesley Hearn and Leroy Lancaster and the 20-person team put together by Ballinger native Russell Byler did incredible work. It is selfless and giving of these guys and all of the volunteers who assisted with the victims’ rescue. And that includes the folks back home who were monitoring Facebook and directing the rescuers to the folks that needed help. It was, truly amazing.

When I spoke to Russell on Monday, he had four folks going with him and two boats and by the time the crew left at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, he had about 20 folks on the team and half a dozen to ten boats. The whole community followed their journey on Facebook, because Russell and crewmembers like Clete Bradley and others posted videos and photos of what was going on.

Russell called it an incredible experience as he traveled home in the dark, late Thursday and he urged folks back home to continue to collect things like water and non-perishable items for the victims. It’s not over yet and another hurricane could be on the way.

“We saved lives, we hauled supplies, everybody did an awesome job, we all did our part,” Russell said in a late night post Thursday as the crew was traveling home. “We decided to head on back home – Clete and Jason decided to stay. The past couple of days we’ve been here we have been able to help. It is an experience we will never forget – any of us will forget. We thank each and everyone of ya’ll for the support and prayers. They need supplies water and food – everywhere.”

Wesley literally purchased a boat to take down there to use to help with rescues. On videos he posted, you can here the tug of the motor as he picks up victims.

“It's truly eye opening to see these people having to leave everything behind with no idea when they will be able to return and what will be left when they do,” Wesley posted. “There are countless people throughout the Houston area assisting from all over the country...it is amazing. While it is a beyond devastating disaster, it also allows everyone to see how this country CAN put divides to the side in order to come together as one. My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all those affected by #harvey and especially those that lost loved ones already. “

Russell expressed a bit of sadness that they could not do more because the federal government stepped in…but he said they would go back, wherever they are needed.

There were reports of shots fired, and some looting, so law enforcement and government officials determined it might even be too dangerous for the volunteer rescuers, someone posted.

Meanwhile, there are places throughout Runnels County where folks can donate. Local churches are taking donations as well as local businesses. See our story on page one for groups and donation locations.

Keep praying and paying it forward Runnels County… thank you.

Celinda Hawkins is the managing editor of the Runnels County Register. She can be reached at the office at 709 Hutchins Ave. or by calling 432-349-2736.