HOUSTON - Among the folks who worked tirelessly during Harvey? Harris County Flood Control District meteorologist Jeff Lindner.
Folks were so impressed with his work, they donated money to send him on a vacation. But he's not using it to take a trip or lay on a beach, he's giving it to others and he invited KHOU to join him as he delivered some emotional surprises.
Flood waters turned roads into rivers and did not discriminate in damage and destruction. Through it all, a familiar face gave out critical information day after day, often hour after hour. Nine weeks after landfall, Lindner was back out delivering something else.
Lindner heard about a church receptionist who lost everything in the storm and had no flood insurance.
He walked up to the unsuspecting woman saying, “I'm here to give you $500 from the Go Fund Me that was raised.” Ruby was stunned, tears welling up as she hid her face. Lindner smiles, giving her a hug and saying “It’s ok. It’s ok.”
Ruby and her husband never even applied for FEMA assistance.
“We were afraid that if we took something that people who needed it, maybe there wouldn't be enough to go around. So, this is crazy," said Ruby.
We ask her if she recognizes her good Samaritan, and she does not. Ruby may not, but much of Houston does.
In fact, locals were so grateful for Lindner's 24-7 work during Harvey, they donated to a GoFundMe account to send Jeff on a vacation. County rules say he can't take the money. So, Lindner is giving it to Harvey victims. Usually, it’s just someone he stumbles across when he’s out in the neighborhoods.
Matt Rahimi who lives near the Addicks reservoir is piling up his fifth load of Harvey debris when Lindner walks up. The two chat a bit about the storm.
Lindner learns Rahimi had no flood insurance then pulls out two gift cards and says, “This is $1,000 to help you with your recovery.” Rahimi is stunned, saying “Oh my gosh. Is this real? Let me hug you man. Thank you so much!”
We snapped a picture of the two so Lindner can tweet it out. That way good hearted donors can see where their money has gone.
Next stop, Sam Bi. He owns Sushi Pop on I-10 and Bunker Hill, in the hard hit westside area. Harvey closed his restaurant for a week.
"Most of my customers are focusing on rebuilding their house, recovering their life," says Bi.
In fact, his business is still down 30 percent. His home and car are still a mess; both drowned in Harvey. Sam moved here from New Orleans.
"I have been thru hurricane Katrina. During that time, I lost everything too," says Bi. "This is my second time.”
He was evacuated to Houston and decided to stay, saying he learned to love this city.
Lindner hands him $1,000 in gift cards. Sam’s emotions struggle to stay below the surface, as he says, “Thank you so much.” Sam adds, “This means a lot to me. It’s priceless.”
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