Houston Chronicle - - CITY | STATE - By Lind­say Pey­ton hous­ton­

Capt. Michael Bing­ham has called Mey­er­land home for 11 years, and he has been sta­tioned in the area for three out of the 16 years that he’s served with the Hous­ton Fire De­part­ment.

The im­age of Mey­er­land un­der wa­ter haunts him.

“It’s my neigh­bor­hood,” he said. “It was def­i­nitely heartwrench­ing to see my neigh­bors walk­ing through wa­ter.”

At one point, he saw a firetruck stuck on the West Loop, wa­ter up to its roof.

“That was just an eye-opener — how high it got, ” he said. “It’s not some­thing men­tally you can be ready for.”

To­day, the neigh­bor­hood feels a bit like a ghost town.

“None of the homes have peo­ple in them be­cause they’re be­ing worked on,” he said.

The night Har­vey ar­rived in Hous­ton, Bing­ham was as pre­pared as pos­si­ble.

“It didn’t hit when they said that it would,” he re­called. “But when it hit, it hit hard and quick.”

Bing­ham and his fel­low fire­fight­ers went to work im­me­di­ately. They headed to a park­ing lot at the in­ter­sec­tion of West Loop 610 and West Bell­fort. Res­i­dents made their way to the area, and the fire­fight­ers trans­ported them to safety.

The crew was there un­til 2 a.m. By the time they were ready to shut down the oper­a­tion, their firetruck was trapped in the park­ing lot. The crew slept in the ve­hi­cle, wait­ing for wa­ter to re­cede.

The next day, Bing­ham and his fel­low fire­fight­ers waded through chest-high wa­ter, climb­ing up 610, to help get peo­ple out of he­li­copters and into trucks where they could be taken to shel­ters.

Even­tu­ally, a group of cit­i­zens showed up with air­boats, Bing­ham said. The four fire­fight­ers in his crew took the boats to a three-story apart­ment com­plex where a num­ber of peo­ple were stranded. They evac­u­ated the whole place, then they moved on to help more res­i­dents stuck in their homes.

“We went to neigh­bor­hoods off Stella Link,” Bing­ham said. “They just kept send­ing us ad­dresses.”

About 4 a.m., the fire­fight­ers had to be res­cued them­selves to get back to the sta­tion.

Mon­day, Aug. 28, was his son Asher’s birth­day.

“I was hop­ing to get home, but I was one of the last ones re­lieved,” he said.

When he fi­nally made it home, Bing­ham had worked for three days straight. Many fire­fight­ers in the city had a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence. “My story is no dif­fer­ent,” Bing­ham said.

Fire­fighter Rick Rivera has worked with Bing­ham for three years.

“Cap­tain is a stand-up guy, a give-the-shirt-off-your-back type of per­son, ” he said. “Ev­ery­thing we did, he would do first to make sure it was safe for us. He was look­ing out for us.”

Storm a dou­ble was whammy for fire cap­tain who lives and works in Mey­er­land

Michael Cia­glo / Hous­ton Chron­i­cle

Michael Bing­ham

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