By VERNON ROBISON
Moapa Valley Progress
Last week as national news reports came in of the devastation in Houston and other parts of southeastern Texas, one Moapa resident decided he couldn’t just sit by and watch. Instead, Cesar Macias determined that he had to do something to help.
Macias said that the coverage he saw on the news and social media was heartbreaking to him. He was concerned about the people he saw. But he also noticed the perils that the animals in the Houston area had suffered. Macias works as a ranch hand at the Lewis Ranch in Moapa and has a real soft spot for animals of all kinds.
All of the troubles in Texas affected Macias greatly. He said that he actually had trouble sleeping thinking of the suffering that so many people and their pets and animals were experiencing.
“Finally, I just decided that my feeling bad wasn’t helping anyone,” Macias said. “Of course, prayer helps to some extent. But I finally decided that getting up and taking action was what would make a difference.”
His plan started small. On Tuesday last week, he decided that he would buy a bunch of supplies, load them up in his pickup truck and drive to Texas to donate them.
As he began carrying this out, he posted his plans on his social media page to let his friends know what he was doing. Soon he was inundated with offers from all over the place to help.
“First I had neighbors dropping by my house with donations of items for flood victims,” Macias said. “Then it kind of snowballed from there. Everyone was just so supportive.”
Lois Hall of Cal’s Auto Repair in Overton saw Macias’ post and also wanted to help. She sent a message to Macias offering to open up the shop for people to bring donations. Soon the word got out and the auto shop became a steady stream of Moapa Valley residents dropping off items.
“The people of the valley really came together on this one,” Hall said. “We filled up our waiting area with stuff and when I came in to the shop the next morning there were donations piled up out front too.”
Donations included big bags of pet food, clothing, bottled water, a case of new shoes, clothing, blankets, pillows, diapers, health and beauty items and much more, Hall said.
“It was amazing to see that kind of generosity,” Hall said.
It quickly became clear that a pickup truck; or even a pickup truck pulling a trailer; would not be enough to haul everything. So Macias went to Las Vegas and rented a 20 foot U-Haul truck. Then he brought it back to Moapa Valley to load up all the donations.
In addition he received donations from people and businesses in Las Vegas who had followed his posts. The IFA Store in Las Vegas donated bags of dog and cat food, pet kennels, and even hay bales.
And there was much more. Macias paid a visit to The Farm, an animal rescue facility in Las Vegas where he had volunteered in the past. “They filled up four bucket loads of dog food in a backhoe and donated them to us,” Macias said. “It was literally hundreds of pounds of dog food. They said that they were grateful to me for doing this. They just wanted to help out.”
By the time Macias and his girlfriend Thelma Elenes began their journey on Thursday afternoon, the U-Haul was completely filled with donations from all over southern Nevada.
“We are jam-packed and this truck is riding heavy!” Macias said on a Friday morning phone call that found him on the road about 100 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. “Here I thought that I was going to be bringing maybe a pallet full of stuff in the back of my truck. But it has turned out to be much bigger.”
Driving 12 hour days, Macias and Elenes arrived in the storm-ravaged areas of Texas on Saturday afternoon. By that time, the areas of greatest need had shifted from Houston to Beaumont about 90 miles to the east.
On Saturday evening, he pulled into the Ford Park Entertainment Complex, a major sports arena in Beaumont. There a team of members of the National Guard helped unload the truck of all of the pet food, hay and other animal-related items.
“There were a lot of people in that area who were taking care of animals that had been displaced by the floods,” Macias said. “So there was a need for that stuff. We were pretty tired. But with everyone’s help, we got it all unloaded within about 30 minutes.”
But there was a still a lot left in the truck including clothing, bottled water and other supplies for people in need. Macias said that he spent much of Sunday going back to the southern part of Houston and looking for churches that were accepting those kinds of donations to help flood victims. By the day’s end, they had unloaded everything.
“So our work is all done now,” Macias said on a Sunday evening phone call. “Now we just have the trip back home.”
But he said he couldn’t help still feeling overwhelmed by the extent of destruction that had been experienced in the area and all of the help that was needed.
“We drove around small towns just like Overton, where they just lost everything,” Macias said. “Every house, every store, everything in the town was destroyed. There are just so many people needing help, it is hard for you not to stay and help everyone. But you just can’t do it.”
Nevertheless, Macias said that the journey had been a great experience. He expressed appreciation for all the support he had received from home.
“It was a long trip, but we never felt like we were alone,” he said. “The outpouring of concern and love and support that we felt from the people back home – through phone calls, facebook messages or whatever – was amazing. We felt like we took the whole town of Moapa Valley with us. It was incredible.”