Seven Deady Questions: Samay Arnaiz, Houston’s PWC Rescue


Only now has Hurricane Charlie moved northeast after battering the Corpus Christi coastline before pushing into the greater Houston area. According to USA Today, Harvey is estimated to be costliest natural disaster in US history, totaling upwards of $190 billion. “The United States’ fourth largest city, will be uninhabitable for weeks and possibly months due to water damage, mold, disease-ridden water and all that will follow this 1,000-year flood,” said AccuWeather president Joel Myers; and tens of thousands of residents are currently displaced until waters subside.

At its worst, thousands of locals were either taken completely off-guard or were physically or financially unable to move to higher ground. This left scores of people holed up in rapidly flooding residences with nowhere else to go. Yet, the massive area that Houston occupies included higher ground only a short distance away. One local resident and personal watercraft enthusiast, Samay Arnaiz, lived a scant 45 minutes from the neighborhoods impacted the worst. The Watercraft Journal got to talk with Samay who humbly shared his experience:

The Watercraft Journal: What first prompted you drive into the flooding in Houston? At what point did you say, “I’ve got to do something?”
Samay Arnaiz: There’s was Facebook page called “Harvey911” created during the storm after public realized there was not enough Search & Rescue to get to them in time. I was only 45 minutes away so I drove over. I spent 3 days total until my ski broke.

WCJ: Can you tell us about the rescue operation currently underway? How was it organized?
SA: There was a map with pin drops; every time we heard or saw anything on the news with addresses we input the info on the map with a pin. After [we conducted the] rescue, the pin will be removed. We knew where to find people thanks to the map – although the majority of the rescues were thanks to the state telling the public to display/hang a white towel or sheet on a window. We dropped them off at the entrance of the subdivision where other people would take them to shelters.

WCJ: We saw that you yourself got injured and you also hurt your ski – what happened?
SA: On my first day there – sometime in the afternoon – I noticed the ski was vibrating really bad. After a couple of hours I took the ski out of the water and noticed the impeller stuck on the wear ring, the blades were bent due to debris in the street and a rope wrapped around the driveshaft. Also the ride plate was completely shaved due riding through shallow areas.

WCJ: We noticed that you’ve quite a bit into modifying your FZR. Can you tell us everything you’ve done to it?
SA: It is a 2010 FZR – its a stock engine with upgraded valve springs, a custom turbo kit with a Garret GTX3071R. The damaged 160mm wear ring and 13/20 SVHO prop were stock. Unfortunately, other parts damaged during the week were a front-mounted intercooler, an R&D intake grate and the SVHO ride plate (cut by Jim). The ski ran 90.6mph last time I had it out before I joined the rescue effort.

WCJ: Lastly, if people want to help, donate money/water/food, where should they donate?
At this time the rescue continue but there’s a lot of folks from other states and enough authorities out there helping. I suggest that supplies be donated to shelters. This number [(713) 881-3100] is to communicate with authorities to get routed to the worst locations in the area.

All of us at The Watercraft Journal are grateful to Samay’s service to his fellow Texans, and just goes to show the lengths people will go to help their brother in a time of crisis. This is what America is about, not what the television wants to sensationalize. We would like to invite anyone or any company willing to donate any product or otherwise to bring Samay’s Yamaha back together to contact him HERE.

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Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – kevin.shaw@shawgroupmedia.com Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.

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