Hurricane Harvey brought with it torrential downpours, historic flooding, and utter devastation for many communities in Texas and Louisiana, but fortunately for the residents of many in the affected regions, a different kind of flood soon followed: an outpouring of volunteers, donations, and support from Americans of all walks of life.

After a look at social media platforms like Facebook, the America of just a few weeks ago, ripe with anger and hatred, seems to have given way to what most of us have long claimed was always the real America; one where the color of your skin, the party you vote for, or the statues in your town square don’t dictate the way we treat one another.  Tensions remain, but as flood waters began to rise in America’s heartland, so too did our sense of community, of togetherness, and of compassion.

Over the past week, social media feeds, that were once inundated with spiteful memes and angry rhetoric, have become a growing testament to the heroism exhibited by everyday Americans who saw others in need, and knew that they could help.  These men and women put their own safety, their property, and often, their bank accounts at risk to head into the murky flood waters of ravaged communities like Houston, hoping that they might make a difference for those trapped by the rising tide.

Mark Detrick is just such a person.  When he first saw the flooding in Houston on the news from his home in North Dallas, he knew he wanted to help.  His wife and business partner, Mandy, felt the same way.

She told me she wished she could go down there and help, but I assumed we’d just be in the way if we went.” Mark told me over the phone on Friday morning. “But the next day, I was watching ‘Fox and Friends,’ and they said that they really could use the help of anyone with a boat down there, and I knew what I had to do.”

Mark already owned a jet boat, but knew that its draft would be too deep to be able to get through the shallower areas of flood waters in Houston, so he went on Craigslist and started looking for something that would be better suited for the rescue effort.  Within hours, he’d withdrawn $2,500 from his family’s savings, and was on his way to buy a Zodiac a local man had listed.  To Mark’s surprise though, another guy had shown up with the same intent before he could get there.  The seller told him he’d already had ten other people try to buy it that day; a true testament to just how many people in Texas were willing to trade their saved money for the chance to save lives.

After a few more hours, Mark was the owner of a new (used) 16 foot Jon Boat with a 25 horsepower motor.  He hitched it to his truck, and went home to have a tough conversation with his family.

Going down there to help meant I’d miss my son’s 16th birthday,” Mark told me, “So I asked him if it was okay that I do this.  He said, ‘dad, if you’re helping people, I don’t care where you have to go.’ Then he helped me load the life preservers and other supplies I’d need onto the boat so I could set out early the next morning.”