AUSTIN - When we spoke to Zachary Dearing Saturday, he said he could hardly believe he was about to meet all five living, former Presidents.
"It's a humbling experience," he said. "An immense honor."
Dearing was one of five "Points of Light" recipients that were honored by the Presidents at Saturday's "Deep From The Heart" benefit concert.
The Rockport resident was living on a houseboat with his father when Hurricane Harvey hit, devasting the area.
His father sought refuge in Houston and Zachary headed to the city's designated shelter: the Live Oak Elementary school.
"When I walked through the door," he said, "It's dark, powers out, the drop ceilings had fallen, the restrooms were overflowing..."
As Dearing explained, the City of Rockport initially ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city. They didn't set up a shelter location until the day of landfall and didn't have a free staff or emergency responders to man the facilities.
"Authority hadn't been handed off properly," Dearing said. "No one was running the shelter and that was bad...we had two hospice patients, six people on oxygen and more that we had to get through the night."
Dearing stepped up. He, along with two teens that had been trying to take care of all the residents in the shelter, started a coordinated effort to get food, water and attention to all those who needed it.
Because of his efforts, Dearing and four others were recognized and awarded by President's George Bush Sr., George Bush Jr., Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. It was an honor he humbly accepted.
"I think a lot of us feel the same way," Dearing said. "A lot who helped have not been recognized, and we feel that walking across the stage should be recognition for anybody and everybody who stepped up to help somebody in need."
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