Local Connection to Natural Disaster

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The realty office of John Greene in Naperville is a long way from Houston, but the connection realtor Genine Gaertner has with a first responder there couldn’t be closer. Her daughter Gretchen is on the front line of those trying to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“She has only been an EMT for two weeks. Initiation by fire,” says Genine.

In the midst of helping others, Gretchen and her team found they were in need as well.

Genine shares, “And the first responders from what I understand were running out of food. The disaster was a little bit more than what they thought it was going to be.”

Inspired to help, Genine reached out through social media and her office’s internal email, asking for donations

“I only sent one email, and one Facebook post and this all happened,” she says, gesturing to a large pile of supplies.

.The next need? A truck to transport it all. Luckily, her Facebook friend, the Broadview fire chief Tracy Kenny was spearheading a relief effort of her own.

“She knows Gretchen personally, helped her to get her EMT license and become a first responder,” explains Genine, “and she was more than happy to have me tag on.”

National Van Lines and Two Men and a Truck got in on the plan, donating drivers, trucks and gas to move the supplies.

Volunteer Gary Reece was on hand to help load supplies. “My boss asked me did I want to volunteer to help pack some things for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and I said yes,” Gary told us. “I’m all about helping. That’s what I’m here for. That’s my job.”

Though Genine would rather her daughter’s job keep her out of harm’s way, sharing, “ I asked her to come home, and she wouldn’t,” she’s awfully proud of the work she’s doing; and of her own workplace, for stepping up and stocking up for Houston’s first responders.

Besides being short on food, Gretchen’s crew also needed to be rescued themselves after their ambulance bus began taking on water. Thankfully they made it out unharmed.

Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc, Kevin Machak and Beth Bria report.