HOUSTON - Like a lot of Houstonians, Paul Middendorf says he initially underestimated the impact Hurricane Harvey would have on the city. When that impact became clear, so did Middendorf’s mission.
“I met up with a friend of mine, we grabbed a boat and we just sort of drove to a house where we met a group of people,” he says. “That started it all.”
The team began rescuing people in Fifth Ward, but went wherever help was needed. Eventually rescues turned into supply runs in Houston and as far away as Port Arthur.
“By then, we’d already heard about people with these massive infections, anything from flesh-eating bacteria to staph,” explains Middendorf.
The flood threat over, he began to focus on the health threat that existed for all the Good Samaritans who’d literally jumped in to help.
“We started talking about what can be done. What can we do to help these people to help our team and the other teams?” he says.
The answer: he and his friends set up the Houston Rescue Clinic, offering a place where people could get vaccines and health screenings.
“Now we’re working with the Montrose Center,” Middendorf says.” We’re providing group sessions for PTSD and compassion fatigue needs, which is pretty widespread.”
Middendorf isn’t a first responder; he doesn’t have a medical background. He runs an arts nonprofit for a living. But just like so many others during Harvey, he saw a need and stepped up to help.
“It was really heartwarming to see so many people doing this and working together. It was every person with every sort of work background, educational background,” he says. "Whatever the need was, that’s what we were there to do."
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