One of Denton County game warden Josh Bulger’s last water rescue calls of Monday night required patience on everyone’s part. He and Fort Bend County Sheriff’s deputy Casey Schmidt, his partner in the boat, weren’t able to ferry the family to safety until Tuesday morning.
But when all was said and done, four generations of the same family from Richmond flashed their first smiles in days after climbing aboard the boat Bulger had brought with him from 300 miles to the north. It may have been cramped, but at least it was seaworthy.
“They were in an area that wasn’t reachable for us in the boat,” Bulger said in a text message Tuesday in between search-and-rescue calls. “Some civilians drove us to the edge of their neighborhood and we waded out to them to assess the situation. It became clear that we’d have to come back first thing in the morning with the boat.”
That’s because this call involved getting a great grandmother, a grandmother a mother and her three children to safety from a secluded neighborhood in Richmond, which took on seven more inches of rain Tuesday after parts of the Houston metro area had already received 40-45 inches since Friday.
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Bulger has been in Fort Bend County, to the southeast of Houston, since Monday, when one of his rescue calls came from a mother and daughter whose car had broken down on their way to a shelter in the area. They set out on foot and were taken in by strangers living in the apartment complex seen in the background of one of Bulger’s photos.
“Your heart goes out to everyone you encounter out here,” Bulger said. “It’s a lot to process for us, so just imagine what these people are going through. Especially the kids.”
Bulger’s first assignment on Sunday, after arriving and staging overnight Saturday in Tilden, was clearing houses 175 miles to the southwest in Rockport, a town of about 10,000 that Hurricane Harvey hit head on Friday night as a Category 4 Hurricane.
“What I’ll never forget is seeing that total destruction that the storm brought to Rockport,” Bulger said. “Whole neighborhoods were just gone.”
Bulger is one of four Denton County game wardens conducting water rescues in Southeast Texas this week. He estimated that he had been involved in rescues that saw 50 Richmond residents to safety on Monday, and 20 more, and counting, Tuesday.