Keraun Harris, better known as King Keraun, is a Houston-born actor, comedian, and Instagram star who’s appeared on Insecure and Black-ish. He agreed to share with MTV News his experience of being in Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey: the strongest hurricane to hit the U.S. since 2004. Since August 25, he and a group of fellow Houstonians have been using their cars to transport people to safety, going door-to-door to pass out supplies, and, most recently, bringing aid to small cities like Beaumont and Port Arthur, which remain “deadly” and “dangerous,” according to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. — Madeline Roth
I’m from Houston, born and raised, but I’ve been living in L.A. for about two years. I have a place in Houston and my four-year-old daughter lives there, so I come back every other weekend to see her. It wasn’t a weekend to see my daughter, but when I found out about the hurricane, I ended up booking a flight because I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if something happened to her and I wasn’t there. Once I got here, I saw that she was secure. I saw that she wouldn’t really be affected and that she and her mother had enough food and enough things to be all right. That’s when I thought, ‘Well, it’s time to help other people who aren’t as good.’
I decided I wanted to help people, I just didn’t know how. So I started with the couple little things that I could do. First, I took my friend home in the middle of the storm on Saturday. I have a 2016 Jeep Wrangler and it sits pretty high, so it can kind of get on the water and be OK. While I was taking him home, I saw this man who was about 75 years old. He said, ‘Hey, would it be OK if you take me up a couple streets?’ He was literally walking in four feet of water. He said, ‘I’m wet and I don’t wanna mess up your car. Would you let me just jump on the rails and hold on?’ Even in a storm, in something so catastrophic, he’s worried about my Jeep with the rims and the big grill on it. I was like, ‘It doesn’t matter, get in the car!’ I got him home, and by the end of that day, I ended up getting another person home and asking people if they needed rides. So many people were caught outside at work, and if you’re flooded out of your little car, you could be miles away from home.
On Sunday (August 27), I got somebody across the bayou, but I ended up getting my Jeep stuck in a ditch. When there’s flooding, if there’s a ditch, you won’t know because the water’s so high over the street. My Jeep got flooded out, and a friend of mine, DJ A-Plus, came and pulled my car out of the ditch with his F-150. This is what it’s about — it’s about helping people. I was helping somebody else, and now he’s helping me.
Yesterday (August 31), we got word that Beaumont and Port Arthur are flooded underwater and they’re in a state of emergency, meaning there’s no way in and no way out. They have no water and the water is shut off. I had gotten all these supplies and I was driving around Houston delivering them, but people weren’t accepting certain things anymore. You would go to one shelter and they would say, ‘We’re only accepting tampons, that’s it.’ And then you’d go to another place and they would say, ‘We’ve got everything else, we just need socks.’ It was becoming apparent to me that everybody in Houston was getting taken care of, but in Beaumont, there were no people coming out there. Nobody at all. I said, ‘Well, everything we’ve got, we’re going to go to Port Arthur and Beaumont.’
So last night, we got over 100 cases of water and some food — bread, noodles, peanut butter, some essentials — and I used social media to let everybody in Beaumont know we’re coming. As I was on my way, there were people commenting on my page saying there’s no way into Beaumont because I-10 is flooded. I posted a video saying, ‘I just rented a U-Haul, I’ve got all this stuff, how do I get here?’ I got comments that said to use the Waze app, so I did, and I found a way.
When we got there, a policeman said, ‘You can’t get in there. The water’s flooding, and you need to turn back around.’ And I said, ‘Well, I feel like we just gotta try.’ Because if it was me and I didn’t have any water, I would want somebody to try. Beaumont is normally an hour and 20 minutes from Houston, but this way it took two and a half hours. But we got there. When I pulled up to the Antioch Baptist Church, there was a row of cars waiting on me to get there, and people were just crying over water. It messed me up, because I’d never seen anybody cry about water. They had run out of baby formula too, and there was a woman who had had to start breastfeeding. We came with the baby formula and she cried because of how tough it had been for her the past two days having to breastfeed.
Beaumont is still going through it. They don’t even have water to shower or anything. I’m trying to get them 1,000 cases of water this week, so at least they’ll have bottled water to take bird baths, which is better than nothing. It’s still a state of emergency, and it’ll probably be like that for a long time, so now it’s just about trying to get them water. One case of water for right now can be the difference between life and death.
Being from the South, it’s very segregated — you know, black people are gonna go club over here, white people are gonna go club over here, and Hispanics are gonna go club over here. It just is what it is. But this is the first time I’ve seen everyone come together, no matter what. It’s beautiful to see the city break down racial barriers, especially with this being a Republican state. Everybody put that aside. We didn’t even care that maybe on the back of your truck it says ‘Make America Great Again.’ We’re still helping to fill that truck with water.
I just feel like the city’s showing up, for the whole world to see. There were 15 guys from Austin, just regular guys, who came out here with their boats to try to help people. Then there were guys who came out with their monster trucks, and they used one of them to pull an army vehicle out of the flood. It just shows you how Texas is. We all take care of each other.
If you’re out here in Houston right now, it looks like a regular Friday. There are still underwater spots and there are still people getting help and people in shelters. But where I’m standing right now, there are 500 cars on the highway. People are at the Whataburger and McDonalds up the street. I’m looking at them. It’s a regular day. But there are so many little places that are 50 miles out, 80 miles out, 100 miles out, that don’t have anything except one hospital, one police department, one light, two Applebees, and that’s it. They’re seeing the relief in Houston and they’re like ‘What about us? We need help.’ That’s the biggest challenge right now: getting to all the little cities around Houston, like Beaumont, Port Arthur, Dickinson, Wayne… all these places on the southeastern border. My plan right now is just to go wherever I hear needs help. Don’t wait for somebody else to help those people — you go and help them right now.Keraun Harris, otherwise known as King Keraun, tells MTV News his story about bringing aid to people in Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.