Houston reporter Brandi Smith saved a life while covering Hurricane Harvey.

There's a lot of bad news coming out of Houston, but one local news team's quick thinking helped save the life of a stranded truck driver as the waters rose.

While covering Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, KHOU reporter Brandi Smith and photographer Mario Sandoval spotted a man trapped inside the cab of his semi truck below a north Houston overpass. With flood waters rising, it looked like just a matter of time before the driver would be trapped, forced underwater, and possibly killed.

Smith yelled out to the driver, but there didn't seem to be much she or Sandoval could do from their position on the overpass.

The situation looked grim.

Brandi Smith reporting from the scene, where she witnessed this truck in trouble. Images via KHOU 11/YouTube.

Suddenly, they spotted a Harris County Sheriff's Office truck, towing a rescue boat, driving in their direction.

Smith waved down the passing truck, pointing them in the direction of the stranded driver. While the broadcast cut before the man was rescued — because the KHOU studio had flooded and was being evacuated — Smith later confirmed via Twitter that the rescue operation was a success and posted a follow-up clip:

As many of you know, KHOU 11 News was evacuated due to flooding. That meant my photographer Mario and I were the only ones left on air for ... well ... I don't even know how long. The #KHOU11 signal cut out just as Harris County Sheriff's Office crews got their rescue boat in the water to pull a semi driver out of his flooded cab. I've had SO many people asking if he made it out OK and I wanted to share the video. (We kept going and rolling until the camera's battery died, not knowing we'd been knocked off the air.) They pull him out around the 4:40 mark. THANK GOD for that crew.

Posted by Brandi Smith KHOU on Sunday, August 27, 2017

"First, thank you to everyone who has reached out," Smith tweeted. "We are safe and so is Robert, the driver who was rescued."

"Second, all the credit for that rescue goes to photographer Mario Sandoval, who spotted the truck, and HCSO crews who rescued the driver. Amazing work, you guys."

Smith flags down a passing truck, bringing the situation to the attention of local law enforcement.

It's easy to lose hope in the midst of unparalleled destruction. But let's not forget the everyday heroes among us.

This act by Smith, Sandoval, and the Harris County Sheriff's Office is just one of dozens or even hundreds of examples of everyday heroism that will come to public attention in the days and weeks following the storm.

For those of us who aren't on the ground in Texas, there's still a lot we can do to help. The Houston Chronicle put together a list of organizations that need donations for victims and evacuees.

You can watch the powerful and harrowing beginning of the rescue below.


Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.


This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

It's not a stretch to say the kids in this video are on the cutting edge. Some of the results he talks about in the video at the bottom are quite impressive.

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