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Houston rapper's Instagram post draws remarkable response

By Ashley Williams, AccuWeather staff writer
May 16, 2019, 8:29:24 PM EDT

While much of Houston was inundated by floodwaters as a result of last week’s severe weather outbreak, which battered parts of Texas with drenching downpours, strong wind gusts and damaging hail, some local residents struggled to reach higher, drier ground.

Between May 7 and May 11, 2019, Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport received 5.55 inches of rain, while the city’s William P. Hobby International Airport reported 8.74 inches, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Carl Erickson. “Normal rainfall for the entire month of May is 5.09 inches, so Houston had more rain in that five-day period than what they normally receive for the entire month,” Erickson said.

A lot of those needing help awaited rescue from first responders who performed several high-water rescues, including saving individuals trapped in vehicles submerged in rising floodwaters.

One such rescuer was not like the others. He didn’t wear a uniform, nor does he officially work for any of the local police or fire departments. However, as he and his partner rolled through floodwaters in a black monster truck scouring the streets for those who needed assistance, Houston-based rapper and philanthropist Trae Tha Truth and his close friend, Dallas native DJ Mr. Rogers, were the ones that many people turned to for help.

Trae Tha Truth and DJ Mr. Rogers

Houston-based rapper Trae Tha Truth and DJ Mr. Rogers are the faces of Relief Gang, a group that works to help those in need during severe weather and other situations. (Instagram photo/@traeabn)

And they both willingly obliged. Those that are familiar with the pair’s good work in the Houston area over the past several years know—it’s simply what they do. “Anybody whose cars may be stuck, or if you have areas [where people] are blocked from getting to their homes because certain parts are flooded, we’re out in the mix right now, moving all over the city of Houston,” Trae said to his 650,000 Instagram followers in a video post on May 8 as he sat in his truck, ready to roll at a moment’s notice. “Let us know, we’re here. Don’t hesitate.”

More trucks were waiting if needed, he told local media. One of their more notable rescues last week—hundreds of children were stuck in area schools into the evening and overnight hours due to floodwaters, according to Trae. “The first night, we helped the school, a lot of people and kids were trapped in there,” Trae told AccuWeather. “That night alone, we might’ve done anywhere from 100 or so rescues, and you’ve got to remember, we were going three, four days straight.”

Since Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston in 2017, Trae and DJ Mr. Rogers have run a Houston-based group called Relief Gang, which has worked to help people in the community in dire need of assistance. In the midst of Harvey, Trae assisted whomever he could while riding through Houston’s flooded streets on monster trucks and boats, rescuing those trapped in their homes.

Relief Gang rescue

A woman sits in the back of Trae Tha Truth's pickup truck after being given a ride to avoid wading through floodwaters. (Instagram photo/@traeabn)

“Everything was heartbreaking about it,” Trae told AccuWeather. “People felt forgotten because they couldn’t reach out to anyone for help,” he said, adding that even nearly two years after Harvey, some people in the Houston area have not yet fully bounced back, with many still struggling to find permanent shelter.

Trae and his team also assisted those in need after Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael hit the Carolinas and Florida in 2018. “We’re at a point now where when disasters happen, I get calls from the fire department in certain situations, calls from the City of Houston itself,” the 38-year-old musician told AccuWeather. “When things happen, people instantly go looking for me, because we’re the ones who give people hope more than anything else.”

Trae, whose real name is Frazier Othel Thompson III, has been known long before Harvey as a prominent figure in the community outside of his music, giving back wherever he can. “When we started doing this, we found ways to give people hope, even though we started thinking, ’man, we’re only doing so little.’ But that ‘little’ actually spiraled into something major to where we were able to help so many people."

Despite the positive impact Trae and his colleagues have on their community, he said they don’t necessarily always get help from others. “A lot of people don’t really understand the work that we do, because they look [at us like], ‘you’ve got a rapper and a DJ, what do they really know?’"

It turns out—they know quite a bit.

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Trae and his groups have given out supplies, rebuilt homes for those who were denied assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), helped with Hurricane Maria recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and opened a warehouse in Houston where people could come for help any time. Even before Relief Gang formed, there was Angel By Nature, a non-profit organization that Trae founded in 2008. It’s dedicated to improving lives of people impacted by hardship and impoverishment, particularly the under-served youth.

Even at the time of his interview with AccuWeather, Trae was on his way to help 10 families he and DJ Mr. Rogers selected. The families were facing eviction, and Relief Gang is planning to pay their rent. A musician and father of four, Trae's efforts as a civic leader earned him his very own Trae Day, awarded to him by former Houston mayor Bill White and celebrated on July 22 annually since 2008. He was the first rapper in Texas to be honored with an official holiday in Houston, according to his website.

Trae Tha Truth given key to the City of Houston

Trae Tha Truth poses with his key to the City of Houston, presented to him in December 2017. (Photo/Angel By Nature)

But the day, which he has transformed into a festival spanning a few days, is not about him, he explained. “Trae Day is about the city. Even though it’s a day that they celebrate me, I celebrate them that day,” Trae said. 2019’s event will be a weekend of charity events, handing out school supplies, carnival rides and appearances from Trae’s celebrity friends.

With hurricane season just weeks away and the memory of Harvey not far from his mind, Trae told AccuWeather that while he doesn’t want to think about reliving another hurricane, he’s ready. “It’s like the weather is more catastrophic now than anything, it’s getting worse and worse,” he said.

The Houston native plans to open a second warehouse in anticipation of the approaching hurricane season, noting that donations are always accepted at “I was blessed to be able to do music and be an important person in the community, so I always felt that my responsibility was to make sure I found a way to give back and help others,” Trae said.

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