COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – In the wake of what was Hurricane Harvey, dozens of cities in southern Texas are under water, and hundreds of thousands of families have lost everything.
One Rockport man and former Army Veteran, who now calls the Chattahoochee Valley his home, is doing his part to help these ravaged communities.
"We weren't expecting this storm," Michael Shipp said. "We thought it was just going to go into Mexico and maybe dissipate. And then it went back out in the Gulf, and it started barreling towards us, and it was a category four by the time that it got here."
In an exclusive interview with News Leader 9, Shipp says his entire family drove away from Rockport before Hurricane Harvey crashed onto the shore.
"My mom, my aunt and a few of my cousins went outside of San Antonio, and then I have a couple of family members in Houston that got out and went over to San Antonio as well so they could get out of the flooding," Shipp said.
After seeing pictures and videos of the damage already done, Shipp said his mission is to gather as many donations and items as possible and make sure they make it to families in need.
"Power cords, battery-operated power tools, bottled water is the main thing," he said. "Canned goods, baby food, clothes from infant to adult."
Shipp said he's already set up donation sites at both Chattahoochee Harley Davidson and Serenity Hospice in Columbus. He said he hopes the Valley community will help the rebuilding process in his hometown.
"It's the right thing to do," said Patrick Gilbert, a community liaison with Serenity Hospice. "I remember when Katrina hit New Orleans, and I hope Houston and south Texas gets this same type of response."
Shipp said these donation sites will be open from now until September 11. Then, on September 12, he will pack all the supplies in a trailer and drive as far west as possible, to either deliver the items to Rockport or hand them off to Red Cross crews already assisting the victims.
"It's a humbling experience," Shipp said, "and it makes you appreciate things a lot more. Even though I'm not there, my heart's there."
Here's how you can help the local American Red Cross.