Wharton farmer saved 40 neighbors on tractor during Harvey

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Wharton farmer Garrett Gundermann makes his living off the land, but during Harvey he found his town underwater.

Wharton farmer Garrett Gundermann makes his living off the land. His more than 400 acres produces a wide variety of vegetables sold at supermarkets throughout Texas.

Now, he's picking through what's left of a flooded sweet potato crop.

"We were trying to dig a little to try and have something to sell at the farmers market to make a little money," he said. "It's going to be realistically December, January before we have any income coming in."

Garrett and his wife Stacie lost more than the crops. Their home flooded too. When she'd bought the home she asked a neighbor if it was flood prone.

"He said, 'No, if your house floods, all of Wharton is going to be under water'," she recalled. "I thought I had nothing to worry about. Little did I know a few years later Wharton would be under water."

And yet in the middle of it all, when the water was high, Garrett got on his tractor and rescued forty of his neighbors. He pulled them to high ground.

"To be honest I didn't have much time to think," he said. "I was just trying to rescue as many people as I could. It was like one big blur."

Now they are starting over, one seed at a time.

"It's in God's hands you know," he said. " It always has been. We just gotta keep our faith and replant. That's my livelihood. That's all I know how to do."

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The Gundermanns were able to buy seed and replant with the help of a Youcaring site where they are still trying to raise money to keep their business going.

At the same time, the Wharton Chamber of Commerce is working to help the 150 local businesses that were damaged or destroyed during Harvey and the subsequent flooding.

Some of them might not open again. But the majority are working hard to reopen. And the chamber says want people to know they started a new charitable fund to help businesses owners regain their footing.

"We've created a small grant program called the small business recovery grant from the chamber of commerce," said chamber director Ron Sanders, "and we have raised about $33,000 for that so far and we think there's more to come and we're going to start doling out grants this week. "

The chamber is hosting its annual Monterey Square Wine and Fair on October 14, and organizers are hoping people from surrounding communities come support their efforts.

Business owners in Wharton work to reopen after Harvey
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Former Marine whose home and business flooded moved to help others impacted by Harvey.

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Related Topics:
hurricane harveyroad to recoveryWharton

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