Salute to his service: 21-year-old works 32 hours at Texas hotel during flood
Satchel Smith, the hero of the Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas. (Photo: Angela K Chandler)
When flooded roads prevented his co-workers from getting to work, Satchel Smith stepped up and took care of guests all by himself.
Satchel Smith, a 21-year-old college student, got a ride to work from his dad, arriving at Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas, for a shift that started at 3 p.m.
He was scheduled to be on the clock until 11 p.m. that night, but the weather had other plans. The Tropical-Storm-turned-Depression Imelda proceeded to unleash massive flooding on the region, trapping Smith and a total of 90 guests inside the hotel.
For the next 32 hours, Smith was the hotel’s only employee. Now that the storm has passed and everyone is safe, the guests he cared for say he’s a hero.
Here is Smith’s story.
How one college student took care of 90 guests
The rest of the staff at the Homewood Suites in Beaumont couldn’t get to work because immense rains made roads impassable, which meant Smith was all on his own.
It was a situation that would have made many panic, but not Smith. In fact, one guest praised his composure afterward on Facebook, with a post that has been shared more than 13,000 times.
“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,” Angela Chandler wrote in a Facebook post praising Smith. “He has handled this situation with grace, kindness, and a beautiful smile on his face.”
He was, in other words, the very definition of hospitable.
A difficult situation
Although outwardly Smith projected calm and care, privately he was a bit overwhelmed.
Smith told CNN that the ordeal was “pretty intense,” and that the situation saw him performing the duties of hotel chef, maintenance, room service attendant, and any other vacant position, even if he lacked experience in it.
Smith had never, for example, worked in a kitchen, and he does not describe himself as a very good cook. But that didn’t stop him. With the help of guests, he was able to serve meals for those stuck in the hotel.
Smith and the guests even went out into the floodwaters to serve food and water to truckers who were stalled in their vehicles nearby.