KATY PEOPLE OF THE YEAR 2017 HONOREE
Leading multiple efforts for rescues, first responder staging areas, housing displaced pets, and more during Harvey
Katy Magazine is delighted to honor Don Massey as a 2017 People of the Year Honoree for his action in finding immediate space to help save Katy's people and pets.
KATY MAGAZINE l December 2017
By Katrina Katsarelis
Opening photo by Tiffany Lanza
When Don Massey moved to Katy with his family in 2013 to take on the position as General Manager of Katy Mills, he made it a point to immerse himself in everything Katy. He moved into a Katy subdivision, enrolled his kids in Katy schools and set out to learn about his new community. Almost immediately, Massey became a positive force in Katy and served on boards and committees for the Katy YMCA, the Katy Area Economic Development Council, the downtown Katy Advisory Committee, and the City of Katy Convention and Tourism Bureau. In no time, the name Don Massey became synonymous with community involvement. When Hurricane Harvey hit at the end of August, Massey rolled up his sleeves and demonstrated his love and admiration for the people of Katy first hand.
A Mega-Staging Area
As soon as the streets began flooding, Massey's first order of business was to coordinate with Bass Pro Shop at Katy Mills to get boats dispersed for high water rescues and lead staging efforts for groups trying to help. "We were very fortunate that the mall parking lot was dry enough to stage as many units that requested our help," says Massey. With full support from Simon Property Group, Massey arranged to have Katy Mills set up as a mega-staging area for ten different emergency and recovery organizations including the Texas National Guard, the US National Guard, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Texas Department of Public Safety, to name a few. "Throughout the response from the State and Federal agencies, Simon gave full authority to grant them space on our property so they could respond to the people that needed their help," says Massey. "They are an awesome company and they are very supportive of the local teams; especially during a major disaster like Harvey."
Saving Displaced Pets
Within the first few days of the flooding, Massey opened up the space for Austin Pets Alive who set up an enormous on-site rescue center right there in the Katy Mills parking lot. For days, hundreds of wet, frightened pets were tenderly cared for at Katy Mills until they could be reunited with owners or transported to safe shelters. Veterinarians, vet techs, volunteers, and animal lovers converged upon Katy Mills to drop off food, kennels, pet beds, and care for the displaced animals. "Austin Pets Alive had all kinds of animals that needed our help including a baby dear," explains Massey. "I immediately said they could use the Katy Mills parking lot. Their partnership with the City of Houston made the decision an easy one to make. We all needed to work together to help the people and their pets."
FEMA on site for Katy flood victims
A few days later, Massey helped arrange space for FEMA inside the mall to be there on-site and help assist flood victims directly.
Prior to the hurricane, Massey had been a Chief Negotiator on behalf of Simon Property Group with the City of Katy on a multi-million dollar renovation partnership that resulted in a no-tax increase to the City of Katy residents. The renovation will continue to keep Katy Mills as one of the main economic engines for the City of Katy for many years to come. Massey recently accepted a job offer as the Chief Operating Officer for Rothchild Commercial Real Estate, but cherishes the time he spent at Katy Mills. "In preparation of the storm, Simon Property Group and The Mills sent me back up from two other malls. This allowed me to handle the coordination of the different emergency response teams and also tend to my family. With out Simon’s support, I could not have done what we did through out the storm and the immediate response to the flooding."
Saved from the floods
Massey's home had flooding in the backyard that was heading quickly toward the door. Massey's nephew and brother in law helped dig a 40 foot trench that was two feet deep from the back patio to the side fence to divert the rising waters.
Despite the hard work, It was not enough to stop the flooding. "That evening I knew my house was going to flood if I did not call in some reinforcements," says Massey. "My good friend Pete Bell at Cotton Restoration came to our rescue and had two sump pumps brought to my house within an hour." Massey said the sump pumps had huge fire hydrant type hoses attached that worked in overdrive to divert the water at the very last moment. "The water was one inch away from flooding my home but due to the pumps and the ditch, our home was spared. "PHOTO: Don is married to the love of his life, Carrie, and they are the proud parents of Alexis, 9, Olivia, 7, and Noah, 5. (Pictured).
A humble servant leader, Massey is the first to thank everyone around him for the Katy Mills efforts he led during the hurricane. "The most challenging part was keeping all of the different entities in specific areas so we knew who was here and who moved further East into Houston," says Massey. "It was a very fluid crisis response and we had great support from Maria Galvez, the City of Katy Emergency Coordinator. If she needed any space, the answer was yes, let me see where we can put them."
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