Satchel Smith has a normal shift which starts at 3 pm and ends at 11 pm at Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas, but this time it was different.
It all changed when Tropical Storm Imelda trapped him and ninety guests inside the hotel. The ravaging storm lasted for 32 hours, and 21-year-old Smith was the hotel’s only employee on duty for the guests there who hailed him as a ‘hero.’
Angela Chandler, hotel guest, wrote about his calmness during the storm in a post on Facebook, which has been shared more than 13,000 times. She said that when his co-workers could not get to work due to the flooded roads, Smith served them alone.
“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,” Chandler wrote. “He has handled this situation with grace, kindness, and a beautiful smile on his face.” For someone trapped at work, he sure seemed cheerful. But privately, the Lamar University track and field star felt overwhelmed. “It was pretty intense,” he said.
Although his work was to sit behind the front desk, he was literally everywhere, from being the hotel’s chef, maintenance man, room service attendant and more. “I’d never worked in a kitchen,” he admitted. “I’m not really a good cook.” But still stepped into the kitchen, while a guest helped serve breakfast, and some more joined to prepare dinner which was a simple chicken pasta with garlic bread. He said he was surprised that the food tasted good, “Everyone seemed pretty thankful for it,” he said. “They said it was pretty satisfying.”
Meet Satchel. He is the only employee here at Homewood Suites in Beaumont. The access road is underwater and I10 is shut…
Posted by Angela K Chandler on Thursday, September 19, 2019
While the highways were closed and drivers were stuck in their cars, Smith and the guests helped distribute food and water to stalled truckers and the group bonded together after spending so much time together. “The guests were very helpful,” he said. “It was basically like a big family.” After the long haul, one of his co-workers came into work, but he still stayed around to help her out, then took a brief nap, and woke up and again started work till his family drove to pick him up.
Although there was no loss to the hotel property, the flooding destroyed his car in the parking lot, it’s now the second time since a storm has taken his cars after Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017. “Everything happens for a reason,” he said.