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Graciela Hoover Barreras took a leap of faith and flew to Houston with no plans and no place to stay. She left with a pile of stories.

Hurricane Havey hit Texas on August 25, causing widespread and historic flooding across the southern part of the state. One of the city's affected was Houston, the fourth largest city in America.

Looking for a way to help, Hoover jumped on board with an idea one of her coworkers had. Within days they had a group of five and shortly after that, they flew down to Texas.

houston 6Constant reminders of the flooding were all over Houston (Gracie Hoover)"For me, it was a desire to help people," Barreras said about why she left. "And everything fell into place . . . this is a sign we should go.

Barreras and her group had managed to raise $1000 before leaving and used that money to buy food at a Walmart in Dallas, where their plane landed. They rented a pick up truck and drove down to Houston with the food and some clothes that were also donated to them.

"We were kind of just winging it when we were down there," Barreras laughed.

Once they arrived in Houston, it was really late. They stopped at the George R. Brown Convention Center to drop off their donation and see where they could help, but Red Cross wasn't taking donations. So they tried another convention center only to be told the same thing by the Houston Police Department. But then they caught a break.

"They gave us this paper," Barreras said. The police gave them a list of places to try. "We picked out a place called The Giving Hub."

It was 11:00 p.m. by the time the group called The Giving Hub, where Amy answered and said they were not open. But after finding out what they had and that they had no place to stay, Amy helped them find shelter with her and her friends.

"She actually started a donation centre over night out of frustration with the inefficiency other ones," Barreras said about The Giving Hub. "We spent a lot of time [helping them]."

The group ended up joining Amy and her team as they served the people in that particular community who had been affected by the hurricane and the flooding that came with it.

"This place was fantastic," Barreras said about the organization and Amy. "We got to meet the families that had been affected by the flood and we got to deliver to them. It was a lot more hands-on than we expected."

They didn't expect anything when they originally came out. Now they had a chance to donate their items and do hands on work with the organization, including delivering goods and cleaning out houses.

"[It was] very emotional."

And while Barreras said she saw a lot of horrible things, the good news stories outweigh the bad by a large margin.

"There were so many, I can't even begin."

Barreras described one woman she met, whose was referred to as Mama Rosie. She owned a restaurant type business that had avoided the flood, with water only making it up to the doorstep.

"She would come in every day with her van, fill it up with food and make free food for people," Barreras said.

"Sometimes those terrible circumstances can bring humanity together."

After five days in Houston, she is now back in Winnipeg, but hopes to make stuff like this a part of her lifestyle. One of the biggest things Barreras realized while out there is that she loves doing stuff like this and can't wait to do it again.

"There are always lots of ways of helping," Barreras said, offering advice to those who want to help in the wake of disasters like this. "If you can't reach on an international scale, there is always someone in your own backyard [who needs help]."

Barreras laughed when asked if she was heading out to help in the wake of Hurricane Irma, but also said that she would go where she felt called and would absolutely love to head to Florida to help.

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