Phil Cady and Art Collins are United Airlines mechanics who also serve as shop stewards with Teamsters Local 19. As long-time Houston residents, they’ve seen severe weather before, but Hurricane Harvey was something different altogether.
“There’s a lot of suffering out here; not just our people, but everyone.” Collins said. “The devastation, I’ve never seen anything like it. We have everything from guys getting four inches of flooding all the way up to eight feet. You go to approach people to ask what they need, and they just have this look on their face: like, ‘I don’t know what to do.’ ”
Collins’ own neighborhood got hit by Harvey, and his home flooded with about a foot of water. Nevertheless, once the storm had calmed down, he and Cady jumped at the chance to become disaster relief volunteers.
“The biggest priority we have right now is getting to the flooded homes; pulling out sheetrock, drywall, carpeting, everything that’s been ruined by the floodwater, and preparing these homes for adjusters and for rehabilitation,” Cady said. “At the same time, we’re looking for people who have lost everything, and trying to get them the basics – food, water, toiletries. We want to try and get them to at least a place where they feel like there is hope.”
Collins and Cady have been coordinating with the Teamsters Disaster Relief, United Airlines, and their membership in the days following the wreckage. As stewards, they have been in touch with fellow mechanics at their shop, checking in on their coworkers who have suffered as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
Despite the hardship, Both Collins and Cady are confident in the resilience of their city.
“Those of us at United Airlines, we’re not just union members, we’re a family,” Cady said. “Membership, management, hourly, we’re all together working as a team during this type of crisis.”
Collins nodded his head in agreement.
“We’re all good neighbors, we’ll make this work, we’ll come back from this storm and hopefully be ready to help out other people affected by these storms,” Collins said. “Texans are tough. We know how to get this done.”
Teamsters throughout the Gulf Coast who have been devastated by Harvey need your help. Donate to the Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund today!