11.09.2017People

On a mission, at home and abroad

By: Eric Wilkens
Hurricane Harvey shots

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southern Texas in August 2017, Tory Anderson, a senior client executive in Verizon Business Markets, was more than three hours away at home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. A command sergeant major and Army reservist for the 1-158 Blackhawk Assault Battalion out of Conroe, Texas, Anderson was put on notice that aid may be needed in the Houston area.

This is a condensed first-person account of his heroic efforts in helping save lives during the hurricane.

The damage from the hurricane’s first landfall wasn’t as damaging as the rain and flooding that hit soon afterwards.

Once the rain stopped, there were numerous dams that were released that caused even more flooding. Our battalion is made up of Blackhawk helicopters and crew teams, so we were well positioned to lend aid to the local authorities in emergency evacuations, medical supply lifts, and even food and water transport.

Early on, we spent a lot of time in the air and on the ground supporting local emergency operations centers (EOCs), evacuating stranded individuals.

One of the missions we had was evacuating a nursing home of more than 220 patients. Boats carried patients to the nearest road where we would land the helicopter, transport them into the cabin, and fly to medical teams waiting for them in Conroe, Texas.

The majority of the patients were confined to wheelchairs, so they had to be physically lifted in and out of the helicopter. I can’t begin to describe how heart-breaking it was to see the fear in their eyes of not knowing what was going on or the trauma they were going through. Thankfully, we were able to transport all of them to proper medical care.

After we worked on transporting patients, we focused on emergency supply support. Many of the local hospitals were stranded and not able to get the critical medical supplies that they needed.

Both the local and out-of-state support was fantastic. We had medical companies call us with supplies wrapped up, ready for delivery. It was our job to fly those supplies to the hospitals.

Helicopter on street

Army Reservist and Verizon employee Tory Anderson was part of a team that helped during Hurricane Harvey. All photo credit: Tory Anderson

We would land in the closest available area to the location, pick up the wrapped supplies, and take them directly to the hospital. There were so many nursing homes and hospitals affected.

In addition to delivering medical supplies, we airlifted bottled water to the devastated areas. It was incredible to see all of the volunteers who sacrificed their time to all the victims of the hurricane.

I’m proud to work for a company that is part of that effort. The fact that Verizon supports the military reservists working in its company makes these difficult times so much better.

A few months ago, a new manager at the company asked me what it was that kept me with Verizon for more than 20 years. My answer was simple. I told the manager that the company has supported my military career as much as my Verizon career. It’s always difficult being away from family during military efforts and deployments, but knowing that my Verizon career is protected is worth more than I can put into words.

On this Veteran’s Day, we thank our veterans who serve and protect others at home and abroad. Tory’s story was also featured on an ABC News segment

Visit our Military page for more information about Verizon’s commitment to veterans and the military

For related media inquiries, please contact story.inquiry@one.verizon.com

About the author(s): 

Eric Wilkens is on the external communications team at Verizon. He is focused on next-generation public relations, brand storytelling, and digital campaigns. His background includes technology, broadcast, and higher education.