Wharton man steps up to help those in his city struggling with pandemic

WHARTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Three years after Hurricane Harvey ravaged through the Houston area, Wharton residents are still recovering.

The hurricane devastated the area and even cut off roads going into the city.

"When Harvey hit, we were outside my house, which I lived two blocks down. Me and my neighbors were just watching the water come in, it came from nowhere and just came in," said resident Johnnie Gonzales. "I told my wife and kids to load up their vehicles."

Gonzales, the owner of Gonzales Auto Care, saw flooding in both his home and business. But now, his strongest memory of the hurricane is when he and others opened the American Legion Hall as a shelter for others.

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We saw dramatic rescues, heart wrenching reunions and a city rise to help their neighbors in need during Harvey.



"I learned a lot when I was in the Marine Corps," said Gonzales. "We did a lot of humanity stuff when we were overseas, so I carried that on to our community, and I just feel like if somebody needs help, I'm going to help you."

Now, volunteers are using those same lessons of unity as many struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Of the population [that] was affected by Harvey ... it's been a long process," said volunteer Sarah Hudgins. "From people getting back to their homes to go to school here. Some people didn't come back. We're still recovering. You just have to do your part and you have to help your neighbor. That's what's important"

Meanwhile, Gonzales said he believes in the power of the people of Wharton.

"Being done with all of that and the pandemic, yeah, it's stressful, but we've got to move forward. We've got to do what we do," he said.

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