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A 21-year-old man worked at a hotel in Texas for 32 hours alone during the flood last week. Guests say he is a hero



For 32 hours beginning Wednesday afternoon, the 21-year-old was the only employee of the hotel. But for guests who have been counting on him for nearly two days, he is a hero.

Angela Chandler, a guest at the hotel, praised Smith's self-esteem in a Facebook post where it has been shared more than 13,000 times. While flooded roads kept his colleagues from getting to work, she writes, Smith serves the guests alone.

"He manages the phones, answers every one of our questions, makes sure we have a hot cup of coffee or tea and helped us serve a hot breakfast," Chandler writes. "He handled this situation with the grace, kindness and beautiful smile on his face."

To someone trapped, he certainly seemed cheerful. But in private, the Lamar University runway star was feeling overwhelmed, he told CNN.

"It was pretty intense," he said.

Usually located behind the reception desk, he was already the hotel's chef, the maintenance man, room service and any other vacant position that needed filling, even when his experience was lacking.

"I've never worked in the kitchen," he admitted. "I'm not really a good cook."

  Homewood Suites in Beaumont avoids the worst of the storm, but Smith works four shifts on his own. even after a colleague did it in two days.

Outside the highways were closed and drivers were left in their cars, so Smith and the guests braved the deluge to distribute food and water to stagnant trucks. After spending so much time together, the group had to get together, he said.

"The guests were very helpful," he said. "It was basically like a big family."

Finally, after a marathon shift and glowing feedback from guests, Smith's associate put him to work on Friday morning. He stayed for a few hours to help her, took a short nap, then woke up and went back to work until his family could safely drive to pick him up.

The hotel avoids the worst of the storm, with flooding limited to the parking lot, but its car was not so lucky. This is the second time the storm has taken one of its cars since Hurricane Harvey struck in 2017. But it has been able to find good in everything: his family's home is not flooded.

"Everything happens for a reason," he said,


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