Small Gesture, Big Impact

Jess Hunter

Jess Hunter is a U.S. Army veteran and served a year in Iraq as a civilian contractor where he was an explosive detection dog handler. Jess brings extensive emergency management training and experience to Team Rubicon and is presently the coordinator for a 32-member, five-county volunteer organization that works closely with the National Weather Service.

When I sat down to write and reflect on my first operation with Team Rubicon so many thoughts, memories, emotions came to mind. If I tried to describe all of the awesome people I met on Operation Strike It Rich, I would run the risk of leaving a few people out. The most memorable experience came during a muck out. It appeared that this homeowner did not have a lot to start with and the flood took what little she did have.

During the muck out we came upon an American flag in the debris. Upon further observation, we could tell this was not a typical store bought flag. This flag was larger than what’s typically flown at a residence and the thread count of the fabric was much higher. We knew this flag meant something to the homeowner.

It was amazing how the muck out operation at this residence came to a complete and utter halt when we made this discovery. The flag was unfolded and several of the team members began to clean the flag with the bottled water we had. While our attempt at cleaning it did not restore its appearance to perfection, it did bring the flag to a more presentable state.

We draped the flag over our truck to dry and numerous vehicles gave a patriotic honk of their horns as they went by. Once dry, the flag was refolded and upon the homeowner’s return, the flag was presented to her. As she told us it once belonged to her mother, she developed tears in her eyes and a subtle knot in her throat. No more words needed to be spoken, and I had tears in my eyes as well. Upon seeing this, the homeowner extended her arms for a hug.

I’d never experienced anything like this before, helping this homeowner keep one aspect of the home she lost is bound to stay in my heart for as long as I live. Sometimes what may seem like a small gesture at the onset may have a major impact later on.