Rescue boat used during Hurricane Harvey immortalized in a museum

KATY, Texas (KTRK) -- A message-filled boat now sits in a Katy museum as a reminder of the effort used to save thousands during Hurricane Harvey.

On Thursday, Bass Pro Shops and city officials dedicated the newest piece of the Katy Heritage Museum.

The boat is covered in words. It's not graffiti, but each stroke carries a message.

"It's tremendously impactful," Bass Pro Shops community and social media coordinator Andy Wohlgemuth said. "It's tremendously gratifying that we were able to be a part of something, that we were able to be part of something that great."

As Hurricane Harvey hit the Katy area, Bass Pro Shops quickly got more than 100 boats to responders.

"We looked at them and thought, every boat with every dent and ding has a story," Wohlgemuth said.

No one knows that better than the Katy firefighters that used them.

"We wouldn't have been able to make any response without them for the initial hours," Katy Fire Department firefighter-paramedic Kyle Fritsche said.

Prior to the boats, firefighters were stranded at station with no way to help. That changed when the boats arrived.
"I remember getting those boats and trying to figure out exactly how we were going to use, to get in the swift waters and get to all the people we needed to rescue," Katy Fire Department Lt. Carlos Valladares recalled.

In all, Bass Pro Shops estimates the gesture helped nearly 20,000 people.

It wasn't just boats they donated. They also gave responders a number of other things, including socks and food, and they even opened their doors to allow responders to get dry.

Bass Pro sold many of the boats used during Harvey, except one. For months, customers signed and left messages on it.

"Seeing that boat in there, it's seeing our legacy that we leave here," Valladares said.

If you want to see the boat, it won't cost you a thing. The museum is open Thursday to Sunday, and is free to visitors.

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