When Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeast Texas, Aug. 25, it flooded thousands of homes and displaced more than 30,000 people. In response to the devastation, thousands of people from across the country rushed to Texas to help, taking time away from their homes and work to help others out.
Among those who headed to Texas was Marine Corps Cpl. Eric Gore, a dark-haired, easygoing and friendly chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist at Headquarters Battalion, Marine Forces Reserve in New Orleans.
"I just wanted to help my fellow countrymen out," Gore said. "Helping our neighbors in Texas was something I was able to do, so I went."
US Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard arrive in Houston Aug. 27, 2017, to aid citizens in heavily flooded areas from the storms of Hurricane Harvey. (US Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West.)
Gore, his unit's CBRN training noncommissioned officer, was sitting at home going through social media when he first saw the effects of Hurricane Harvey. At that moment he decided he had to take leave and join the relief efforts.
"I knew I had the capacity to do something, but instead I was just sitting at work going through my day-to-day tasks," he said. "There's no sense in standing-by when people need assistance, especially when you're perfectly able to help them."
Gore left New Orleans Sept. 1, taking an additional four days of leave after the Labor Day weekend to extend his time in Texas.
He first drove with another Marine to Beaumont, Texas, where they linked up with members of the Cajun Navy, an informal group of private boat owners who helped in the relief efforts following 2005's Hurricane Katrina.
With the Cajun Navy, Gore used his experience in the Marines to first help them set up an operations center in the back office of a dance studio. He then communicated with members of the Cajun Navy through phone calls and mobile apps to direct vehicles to distress calls and organize supply convoys to flooded neighborhoods.
"Emergency management is at the heart of my job," Gore said. "CBRN is the 9/11 of the Marine Corps. Everyone just thinks we run the gas chambers, but we're also trained to respond to hazmat incidents and things of that nature."
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Niles Lee
Besides organizing and directing assets in the makeshift command center, Gore also participated in many of the supply convoys, personally delivering supplies to people affected by Hurricane Harvey whenever an extra hand was needed.
"I did as much as I could," he said. "But, in reality, I was a small part of the relief efforts. Without the help of all the individuals involved donating their time and money to relief efforts, none of my work would have been possible."
Gore said he planned to take leave again to help in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, which made landfall there Sept. 20 and left the majority of Puerto Ricans without power. He organized a private flight to the island with a cargo of 12 donated generators, as well as additional relief supplies. However, he had to cancel his plans due to Hurricane Nate, which made landfall in New Orleans.
He said he is still communicating with members of the Cajun Navy though social media, instant messaging and phone apps, hoping to head to Puerto Rico in the near future.