Hurricane Harvey has separated a family family–a wife stuck in Chicago’s suburbs while her husband and children remain in Houston.

But her husband isn’t sitting idle–he’s become a hero.

The Chavez family had split up right before Harvey hit.

Mother and son came back to Chicago to visit family and friends while the father and daughter stayed back in Houston not knowing how Harvey would drastically change their lives.

The cars outside the Chavez family home in west Houston are completely underwater.

“I couldn’t believe the amount of water inside the house, it’s up to our kitchen counters,” Javier Chavez said.

Javier was at home when the Army Corps of Engineers started control releases of a nearby reservoir flooding their Fleetwood neighborhood.

“I literally had 10 minutes to just come back and kayak, grab my dogs,” Javier said.

But as Javier started paddling away he noticed his neighbors needed rescuing he teamed up with other men with boats and even jet skis like this one and went door to door.

“So those guys are the rel heroes,” he said. “Boats from Kentucky, Ohio, Columbus, Ohio.”

In Melrose Park, where Lisa and the couple’s son Lucca are having an extended stay, Javier still makes his wife smile on FaceTime.

“Hi–oh look how beautiful you look,” he says through the screen on her phone.

Lisa and son Lucca haven’t seen the devastation firsthand, but 9-year-old Lucca has one word for his dad.

“Hero,” he calls him.

Friends have created a GoFundMe page for the family that is focused on helping others even as they’ve lost so much.

“We can’t abandon our house people need our help and in turn we’ll need theirs and we need to go back,” Lisa said.

Published at 4:20 PM CDT on Sep 1, 2017 | Updated at 5:52 PM CDT on Sep 1, 2017

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