21-year-old Satchel Smith, an employee at Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas manned an entire hotel by himself after he and 90 guests got trapped inside due to flooding from Tropical Storm Imelda.
Smith probably never thought he would be trapped at work alone after getting dropped off by his Dad for his 3pm shift at the hotel. He was scheduled to get off at 11pm that night but that never happened. Tropical Storm Imelda began her vicious assault on the area, flooding the roads in masse and causing Texas Governor Greg Abbott to declare a state of disaster for 13 counties including Jefferson County where Beaumont is located.
According to CNN, Smith, the sole employee at the time, was trapped in the hotel with 90 guests for 32 hours. The college student sprang into action. He typically answers the phones at the front desk but he quickly added the titles of chef, maintenance man and room service along with anything else that needed to be done to his job description. The guests began calling him a hero.
Angela Chandler, one of the guests who depended on Smith for two days posted a message to Facebook along with a picture of him praising the Lamar University student for his efforts. “He has manned the phones, answered each of our questions, ensured that we have had a hot cup of coffee or tea, and helped serve us a hot breakfast,” Chandler wrote on social media. “He has handled this situation with grace, kindness, and a beautiful smile on his face.” The post has been shared more than 13,000 times.
Smith told CNN that while he did what he had to do, “it was pretty intense.” His biggest reservation was trying to cook for the guests. “I’d never worked in a kitchen,” Smith said. “I’m not really a good cook.” A few of the guests stepped up to help him serve breakfast and dinner, which was chicken pasta with garlic bread. Smith said he was surprised that the food tasted good. “The guests were very helpful. It was basically like a big family.”
Since the roads were closed, no other employee could get there to help Smith for almost two days. Once his co-worker made it to work on Friday, Smith stayed to help her out for a few hours before taking a nap and returning right back to work, waiting until his parents could drive safely to pick him up.
The track and field star said that this isn’t the first time he’s dealt with a storm. While he remained safe, his car was totaled by the storm, the second one ravaged by mother nature in just two years. But he remains optimistic saying, “everything happens for a reason.”
Keep being great, Satchel!