Lone Heroic College Student Worked 32 Hours At Texas Hotel Keeping Guests Safe During Imelda

Cars drive through a flooded street in Nome, Texas on August 31, 2017.
Storm-battered Texans faced a worrying new threat Thursday as potentially harmful smoke spewed from a swamped chemical plant near Houston, as Hurricane Harvey's floodwaters began to recede in America's fourth-largest city. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Lone Heroic College Student Worked 32 Hours At Texas Hotel Keeping Guests Safe During Imelda

Satchel Smith worked non-stop from Wednesday afternoon until Friday night during the violent tropical storm.

Published September 23, 2019

Written by Zayda Rivera

Satchel Smith’s duties as a Homewood Suites employee quickly changed when Tropical Storm Imelda hit Beaumont, TX. Now, he’s being called a hero.

The full-time Lamar University student, who normally works at the hotel for one day a week to earn extra money, put in 32 hours straight during the ravaging storm to ensure guests were safe, reports ABC

“I got to work about 3 p.m. Wednesday (September 18) and it had been raining the whole day, but it wasn’t flooding yet,” the young man told WFAA, the local ABC affiliate station. 

At around 7 p.m. he received a text message from the night shift worker that she was unable to make it due to the storm, Smith told WFAA. So, he stayed. 

“Then the morning came around, and I was the only one there and everyone was expecting breakfast,” Smith said. 

Without hesitation, Smith jumped into action and began serving cereal to guests until one volunteered to help him cook breakfast. 

The college junior also handled glitchy computer systems impacted by the storm and building fire alarms that went off several times during his 32-hour shift.

When dinner time rolled around and Smith was still the only employee there as the storm continued ravaging the area, guested teamed up to help him make chicken pasta for everyone, WFAA reports. 

“We also invited some people from other hotels to come eat because they didn’t have any food,” he told the local news station. 

If that weren’t enough, Smith and some of the hotel guests lined up to bring water to truckers stranded along I-10, WFAA reports. 

Although his 32-hour shift finally ended at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, September 20, Smith stayed at the hotel, took a short nap, and returned to work to continue helping. 

“If you know Satchel, tell him he is our hero!” hotel guest Angela K. Chandler wrote in a Facebook post that’s gone viral. 

“Meet Satchel. He is the only employee here at Homewood Suites in Beaumont,” Chandler’s post, which has been shared 13,000 times, also stated, along with a photo of Smith smiling brightly from behind the front desk.

“He has manned the phones, answered each of our questions, ensured that we have had a hot cup of coffee or tea, and helped serve us a hot breakfast,” she added. “He has handled this situation with grace, kindness, and a beautiful smile on his face.” 

Five people have been reported dead due to Imelda, which devastated the Houston area that’s still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall two years ago.

Now, in the aftermath of Imelda, recovery efforts have begun amid hazardous flooding, ABC reports. 

“I have seen a big teddy bear of a man washing dishes and serving eggs, a little grandmother wiping down tables, and a man drenched from head to toe because he crossed i10 to deliver bottles of water to truck drivers who have been stranded on i10,” Chandler wrote on Facebook. “We saw a helicopter land at the hotel adjacent to us where the parking lot is underwater. Someone had to be flown out.” 

Chandler continued, and added more praise for Smith’s hard work, “I’m looking at my table and see a leftover bagel from breakfast, my hot cup of tea, my cozy socks, and dry tennis shoes. 

“What an example of how to handle yourself in a crisis! I will stay here next time just knowing that despite whatever happens, I will have someone putting our needs above his own needs. Thank you Satchel for taking care of us here at Homewood in Beaumont.”  

The humble young man told WFAA, “I don’t consider myself a hero, that’s just what I would do, I think anybody would do the same thing.” 

Alanna Hall, the operations manager at Homewood Suites by Hilton, where Smith works, told ABC the company is also recognizing him by offering him a bonus for his dedicated service. 

Hall said the company’s management “is going to be rewarding him for his hard work. He is usually just a one day a week employee and he just happened to be working that day -- and I am so happy he was because he totally stepped up to the crisis.” 

(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

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