Ryan started his journey into the Texas Medical Center early on Sunday, August 27, when the waters from Hurricane Harvey had already flooded much of the city. A resident of Richmond, Ryan bid his wife and two children goodbye, made sure they had all the supplies they needed, loaded himself into his Toyota Camry and headed north on the Southwest Freeway toward downtown.
“My plan when I left was to just go until I couldn’t go and if I got within a reasonable distance, I would walk,” he said. “I had no expectation. I was just going to do my best.”
As he got closer to his normal exit at Greenbrier, he realized the freeway ahead of him was impassable and his exit was under water. With no way for him to access the southbound lanes of the freeway, he did what he had seen other drivers do. He turned around, heading the wrong way down the freeway until he was able to exit Kirby via the onramp. Ryan attempted to navigate side streets into the Medical Center but quickly realized all his routes were flooded.
He pulled into a dry Shell station where an employee helped him get ready for his trek, drove his car to a garage in Rice Village and began the three-mile walk, sometimes in chest-high water, to Baylor St. Luke’s.
“I was trying to absorb it all and appreciate the moment,” he said. “I went through a shopping area and the music was playing and there were no people. It was just surreal and serene. It gave me a real appreciation and respect for nature and of the fragility of our infrastructure.
Ryan insists he did nothing special that morning, although he understands most people would have stopped at that gas station and waited for the waters to go down. But he knew his colleagues needed to be relieved and his patients needed to be seen.
“It’s just an internal compass you follow, you know?” he said.
Staff RN, 7 South 3 MSICU