If you were trying to reach the owners of Marshall Brothers Construction in King last week, they were a little preoccupied. Business owners and brothers Darrell and Mike Marshall, and a small band of family and friends, left Wednesday evening with two boats, a kayak, and supplies to help those devastated by the wrath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
“I got up Wednesday morning and the first thing I saw was the story of a woman found floating in the water with her child holding onto her,” Darrell said. “It tore me up. I was really burdened with that all day. I was able to listen to the dispatch calls and all the need for help in Texas. I wondered if we could get there in time to do any good. I figured we could do more there than at home, so we decided to go.”
Before leaving, Darrell met with his pastor, Kevin Broyhill at Calvary Baptist Church. The two quickly worked together to arrange setting up a U-Haul on the church grounds. Through social media, word of mouth and the efforts of the church and Calvary Christian School families, the U-Haul was stocked with water, air mattresses, cleaning supplies and non-perishable food.
“I put the rush on them and everyone pulled together. I knew what little we could do immediately would probably be more valuable than later. We were going to be there and we wanted to be able to give directly to those who needed it,” Darrell said. “It meant a lot to see the church act so quickly. I wasn’t sure if they’d be able to do something on such short notice, but they did.”
When the family arrived in Texas, they connected with the “Cajun Navy,” an informal group of Louisiana boat owners who’ve played a vital role in the recent search-and-rescue missions.
“We were taking boats in and out of neighborhoods. We were doing welfare checks and trying to find anyone that needed to get out,” Darrell said.
The brothers also connected with a local church, Bridge City First Baptist, who were distributing supplies to people in need.
“I believe God led us there. They were getting things out immediately and the pastor told us our supplies would be in the hands of people who needed it within a couple hours.”
Wading through water, trying to find people and meeting those who had lost everything was humbling, Darrell said.
“We’ll go home to a dry, comfortable bed and so many in that area won’t. I know the community will eventually bounce back, but it’s going to be a long time for a lot of people.”
Darrell met a man staying in a local motel, who told him his home was just minutes down the road.
“It had four feet of water in it. He lost his vehicles and everything in his home. My heart just went out to him,” he said. “One person can’t do it all, but if everyone can do a little, it would make a huge difference.”
Darrell’s brother Mike, echoed the same sentiment.
“As a group, I hope we made a dent,” he said. “We didn’t do anything grand, but we did what we could.”
The brothers were encouraged by the amount of folks pouring in to help in the areas of Bridge City, Port Arthur and Beaumont.
“With all the turmoil in the world about who hates who, you wouldn’t know it there. People were pitching in to do whatever they could for whoever needed it,” Mike said.
In a quick encounter, Mike said he met a man who left a lasting impression on him.
“I’m in waders, he’s in shorts, no shoes. We’re walking down the middle of the road to check on some people and he asked where we were from. Then he asked, ‘Have you got family around here?’ I shook my head no and said, ‘Just the ones I brought and the ones I’m making.’ He had tears in his eyes. He was blown away that we’d come from North Carolina to help him. It’s experiences like that, that stand out.”
To those who donated supplies hours before they left, the Marshall brothers gave a sincere thank you.
“I stand amazed at my neighbors and my friends and my family that stepped up to help this cause,” Mike said. “We ran into some more boys from North Carolina down there, and we were joking that when trouble calls, Carolina boys come running.”
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.