Since 2004, Whitehouse native and local businessman Brad Hawkins has been involved in post disaster aid following all types of natural disasters. While he began with hauling donations and serving food, the donations following disasters has become so great that Hawkins now focuses on preparing hot meals for first responders and others in need.
In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Hawkins could be found once again grilling food. He travelled to Port Neches on Friday, Sept. 1, along with his wife, Darlene, daughter, Regan, and two men he knows through the Whitehouse Masonic Lodge, Gary Fields and L. T. Pierce.
While Hawkins originally thought to go to Spring, he was redirected by a friend, Charlie Muller. Hawkins said that Muller, “does some work with Wounded Warriors and a group of their guys went down to Orange and Nederland and saw the need down there.”
Hawkins explained that Muller had called him saying, “They have nothing down there.”
“They rolled in with a couple of trailers one night and they just had snacks and within 30 minutes they [the snacks] were gone, so we thought that was the place we needed to go,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins estimates that his group served approximately 2,000 people with donated cases of fajitas, sausage and hamburgers. They returned on Labor Day, Sept. 4 after spending the weekend in volunteer efforts.
While in Port Neches, Hawkins met a Louisianan fire fighter named Buddha Romero, a member of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Romero had showed up in the fire house parking lot where Hawkins was serving food, not looking to eat but for a way to help. Romero, along with other fire fighters from his local department, was in Port Neches cutting sheet rock out of walls in homes that had been flooded.
Though they met for only a short while, Hawkins was quite impressed with the work Romero and his team was doing. He was so impressed, in fact, that Hawkins now wants to help raise funds so that the fire fighters comprising the IAFF can continue their service efforts in disaster zones.
According to its website, the IAFF represents more than 307,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics in more than 3,200 affiliates. To find out more about IAFF or to donate online, visit iaff.org.
“Anyway we can help – they are in it for the long haul,” Hawkins said, adding, “It will go to the right place, I assure you.”