Jaynes fired up fishing boat to rescue people stranded in storm

Published 10:39 am Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Facing the floodwaters

By Kelsey Hammon



Days before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Orange in late August, rains had already begun to inundate Orange and its surrounding cities. While some would have packed up their stuff and vacated the city for higher ground, Adam Jaynes, a native Orange resident got in his boat and set out to help residents trapped by the floodwaters. Jaynes credits the help of his girlfriend, Brittany Dorsey, 27, and his brother, Brandon Jaynes, 35, for joining him in his mission.

Jaynes, 31, is a family nurse practitioner in occupational medicine and fishing guide on Sabine Lake. He grew up in Orange and played baseball for the Little Cypress Mauriceville baseball team. With several boats handy because of his fishing guide work, Jaynes said he had the tools to help others.

“We were very, very fortunate that we were ok and we had the means necessary to go help people,” Jaynes said. “We had boats at our disposure and gasoline and big trucks. We weren’t going to just sit around and do nothing.”

Jaynes said that when the waters began to rise on Aug. 22, he first called the emergency management phone number for Jefferson County to ask where help was needed. His phone number was then added to a list of area rescuers and Jaynes posted on social media, asking those stranded to reach out to him for help via his phone.

Jaynes and Dorsey started the rescue work Tuesday morning, in LaBelle. Through Friday, Jaynes helped to rescue between 60 and 80 people across LaBelle, Orange, Vidor and North Vidor.

After picking people up in his boat, Jaynes took them to a designated area where there was higher ground so that they could be transported to a shelter or to meet with family or friends.

“It was pretty bad on Tuesday, it was pouring down rain,” Jaynes said. “That was right after they closed the flood barriers. 124 a lot of it was flooded headed out that way. It was bad.”

The water was between three and four feet high, measuring about halfway up the doors to homes. Jaynes and Dorsey’s first rescue was a family stranded in a pasture that had turned to a teeming lake of floodwaters.

“Their house was basically an island,” Jaynes said. “It was surrounded by water.”

The family, a mom, dad and had caught Jaynes attention by signaling SOS with the lights at the side of the house. Jaynes and Dorsey were able to rescue the family, including their dog and cat.

The family expressed extreme gratitude to Jaynes for coming to their rescue.

“They had tears in their eyes,” Jaynes said. “They were very, very thankful that we were able to see their lights. That was pretty special.”

Throughout the night Wednesday, waters continued to rise and residents awoke to floodwaters at their door. The texts and calls for help began pouring in at a greater rate. Jaynes began his next mission at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and Jaynes’ brother Brandon joined him, working by his side through Friday.

While all the rescues were memorable, Jaynes said, one that stood out the most took place on Wednesday.

An elderly couple had been trapped in their home in Orangefield. A fellow rescuer who was also helping people with a boat, told Jaynes about the couple and Jaynes was able to locate them.

“They reminded me of my grandparents,” Jaynes said. “That one was tough not to get emotional on.”

The elderly man didn’t have the strength to climb into the boat, so Jaynes had to lift him in.

While Jaynes said he was not necessarily scared himself during the work, he did get scared for the others he saw in danger. On Thursday, Jaynes got a message that his grandma’s neighborhood in Orange County was beginning to flood and under evacuation. Jaynes said the information ended up being false, but it didn’t stop him from racing over to rescue his “Mamaw.”

Jaynes continued his rescue work through Friday.

As he worked throughout those days, Jaynes said he looked out over the floodwaters to see neighbors helping neighbors and his friends stepping up to help, too.

Jaynes’ home was not damaged in the flooding, so he said he felt it was his duty to help those who were impacted by the storm.

“It’s hard to make a positive experience from such a natural disaster like that, but it was a positive experience seeing people out there helping strangers,” Jaynes said.

Jaynes is continuing those efforts to help those in need and is currently working with a group of volunteers to help homeowners remove flood sodden material, including sheet rock and flooring.

While the floodwaters may have receded, many are still in need of someone to help and Jaynes encouraged residents to lend a hand.

“If you have the means and are capable of helping others, you kind of have to,” Jaynes said. “I am a firm believer in God and Jesus Christ and I feel it is my obligation to help others. The work is just getting started for a lot of people.”