Lifestyle & Human Interest

Student Hailed a Hero After He Spends 32 Hours Alone Managing Hotel Full of People Stranded by Flood


A 21-year-old student at Lamar University is now also being called a hero after he single-handedly managed a hotel with nearly 90 guests for 32 hours while they were all stranded during a storm.

Satchel Smith is a part-time employee at the Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas, and generally works a shift that runs from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m, according to CNN.

On Sept. 18, Smith showed up as usual, only to find that none of his coworkers had been able to ford the floodwaters to help him out.

He was the only one at the front desk, and there was no kitchen crew — but there were still about 90 people staying there that needed attention and food.

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For 32 hours, Smith and the guests became the hotel staff. Everyone joined together with Smith at the helm, pitching in where they could to clean and cook while Tropical Depression Imelda created chaos outside.

Angela Chandler, one of the guests, was so impressed with Satchel’s behavior that she posted on Facebook on Sept. 19 to praise him.

“Meet Satchel,” she wrote. “He is the only employee here at Homewood Suites in Beaumont. The access road is underwater and I10 is shut down due to flooding. We can’t get in or go out.”

“The hotel a mile from us is under water. Satchel has been here all night. His coworkers couldn’t make it to work so he stayed. 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. He has handled this situation with grace, kindness, and a beautiful smile on his face.”

According to Smith, his upbeat demeanor has been a staple in his life.

“Ever since I was younger, I was always smiling,” Smith told USA Today. “If I’m smiling, I feel like other people will smile, too.”

Operations Manager Alanna Hall was unsure how the situation would be handled, but spoke to Smith to try to encourage him while he was the sole employee on the site.

“Just hang in there,” she told Smith. “Somebody’s trying to get there. Just do the best you can.”

“I wasn’t sure how he would take a crisis,” Hall explained to USA Today. “But he has done a wonderful job. He’s the only hotel employee there, period. We are an extended-stay hotel; there’s usually no one there from 8 p.m until 7 a.m., there’s just the front desk person.”

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Smith told CNN that the whole ordeal “was pretty intense,” especially because he was no chef.

“I’d never worked in a kitchen,” he said. “I’m not really a good cook.”

Despite that fact, the group pulled together and made breakfast and dinner, which no one seemed to complain about.

“Everyone seemed pretty thankful for it,” Smith said. “They said it was pretty satisfying. The guests were very helpful. It was basically like a big family.”

“If you know Satchel, tell him he is our hero!” Chandler continued in her post. “He gave me permission to share his picture. What an example of how to handle yourself in a crisis! Goodness gracious! I will stay here next time just knowing that despite whatever happens, I will have someone putting our needs above his own needs. Thank you Satchel for taking care of us here at Homewood in Beaumont.”

“Sometimes we ask ourselves why God allows things to happen, but we are not designed to understand his ways,” Chandler wrote. “I do think that sometimes He allows things to happen so we can be His light and share the love of Christ with others,”

As for Smith, it was — in a way — business as usual.

“I always believe treat others how you would like to be treated,” Smith said. “It’s like a motto of mine.”

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