Trash Collectors Became Heroes During Friday's Floods

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

They're not your average rescue team, but when the streets turned into rivers on Friday they were there to pull the flood victims out. 20 City of Midland employees wound up saving lives and becoming heroes in the process.

"We just figured we'd be around here picking up trash and cleaning the City of Midland, then all of a sudden a call came out and we just happened to be at the right place at the right time," Midland Solid Waste Supervisor, Rene Rodriguez, said.

They sit 13 feet tall. They're 35 feet wide and they sit 4 feet off the ground. That means, the City of Midland solid waste trucks you might normally find driving down your neighborhood streets, are tall enough to roll through water up to your waste and they're long enough to block off two lanes of traffic, keeping other cars from sinking in the flood.

"I do look at them differently," Cody Allison, Midland solid waste driver who helped in the rescue, said. "They make a very good barricade."

It started as an effort to block city streets during Friday's flooding, but turned into a rescue mission saving the lives of eight stranded drivers including a 78-year-old.

"We were going to just start out blocking the street," Rodriguez said. "That's all we were going to do but once we got there, there were already a lot of cars in the water. The water was building up, people were inside so we ended up being more of a rescue team."

Cody and Sam are normally found picking up waste in neighborhood allies and businesses. But on Friday, they found themselves knee-deep in water pulling people to safety. On Tuesday, the Midland Fire Department told NewsWest 9, the waste trucks could go where their rescue vehicles couldn't. All in all, emergency crews reported a total of 55 "swift water rescues."

"I just volunteered," Sam Vasquez, Midland Solid Waste Employee who helped rescue victims, said. "I thought it must be pretty serious I never really thought am I going to be in danger, I just thought we better go out there and do what we can to help out our citizens. We do pick up their trash but we also have to be careful for our citizens here in Midland."

"We're not heroes, we're not brave," Allison told NewsWest 9. "You see what we do. That's the truck right there. That's what we do, but then again, we're not cowards either. I think we did a great job and we'd do it in a heartbeat again."