Jamie Hough could be guiding redfish anglers through the Charleston estuaries right now. Instead, the charter boat captain is running a jonboat through the debris-strewn floods of Hurricane Harvey, plucking desperate survivors out of their swamped homes.
Hough is one of a number of people from South Carolina — some already there and others about to go — personally aiding disaster victims in Louisiana and Texas.
Among the others is Parker Ford, another Charleston angler, and some friends who will be leaving Friday with a tractor-trailer full of water and necessities they are collecting to fill requests by the Lake Charles Civic Center.
It's not just Charleston people going. The impromptu relief effort is burgeoning across the state. A group out of Camden is taking cages for rescued pets. Danny and Ron's Rescue will be working with local shelters there. Emily Durlach of Wadmalaw is going with them.
Durlach's sister is riding with Hough. On Wednesday, Sally Durlach Myers and Hough boated more than 100 people, and countless pets, to safety.
"They're pulling people out of places you wouldn't believe," said Eliza Hough, Jamie's wife. "They rescued a family of 18."
American Red Cross officials in Charleston are advising people not to take, or blindly ship, disaster relief goods unless they have been asked by a specific group. That brings already overloaded relief efforts more headaches than help. The Red Cross said a better option is to make monetary donations to reputable agencies.
Hough, of the Redfish Mafia Charters, is working with the Cajun Navy, a volunteer boating group that came to life out of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. He has fished tournaments in the Gulf states and friends there called asking him to come.
He recommends anyone with the notion to trailer a boat there to stay put if you're not ready for what you would be getting into.
"If you're not extremely comfortable in boats and hairy situations, don't come here!" Hough posted on Facebook. "You have to cross raging rivers full of debris, you have to traverse downed trees and power lines, and you have to be able to comfortably handle a firearm. There are bad people out there taking advantage of the situation."
The dangers are real enough that emergency groups supervising the Cajun Navy are telling the boats to make sure they work in pairs.
Among the gear Hough packed for the trip are gas cans, an ax, ropes, chainsaw, lots of food and water, and extras like spare phone chargers.
On Wednesday night, emergency channels that Hough's group monitors advised those not pulling back from flooded Orange, Texas, to write their names and Social Security numbers on their forearms so they could be identified.
"If you want to know how it is here, and should you come down, I hope that statement puts it into perspective for you," he posted.
Evening Post Industries, a parent of The Post and Courier, is encouraging Harvey relief donations through its television footprint in the region. KRIS Communications of Corpus Christi, and parent company Cordillera Communications, is launching a fundraising drive, Give To The Gulf, for victims in Texas’ Coastal Bend affected by the storm.
All proceeds will go to the Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group, operated by the Coastal Bend Community Foundation based in Corpus Christi, and the American Red Cross of Coastal Bend.
KRIS and Cordillera will match up to the first $50,000 donated to Give To The Gulf. The web addresses for donation pages at KRIS Communications’ stations are http://www.kris6cares.com and http://www.kztv10.com/strong.
Formed in 1986 as a subsidiary of Evening Post Industries, family-owned Cordillera Communications is based in St. Paul, Minn.