Texans’ do-it-ourselves rescue effort defines Hurricane Harvey

Henry was part of an unprecedented do-it-yourself relief effort that came to define Hurricane Harvey. After the storm blew into Houston, a remarkable network of boat owners with smartphones, worried neighbors with laptops and digital wizards with mapping software popped up to summon and support an army of Good Samaritans who motored, rowed and waded into dangerous waters to save family, friends and total strangers.

The “We the People” response seemed distinctly Texan, an outgrowth of the state’s almost genetic disinclination to rely on the government for anything — and in some cases, resolute willingness to defy it. Just as some Texans defied mandatory evacuation orders ahead of the storm, many rescuers ignored repeated official warnings to stay off streets flooded with treacherous and fast-flowing waters.

Texas officials, in turn, repeatedly emphasized the importance of personal responsibility. They warned people not to call 911 unless their life was in immediate peril.