When Hurricane Harvey tore through his town, all one man could do was watch as his home succumbed to floodwaters. Thanks to the storm, he lost pretty much everything. But, miraculously, one special item survived.
Kyle Parry and Stephanie Hoekstra first met each other at their high school in Ontario, Canada. Their journey to the altar would not be a straightforward one, however. That’s because Parry moved to Lumberton, Texas, in 2013 in search of a fresh start.
He’d followed a friend to the small community, where he soon secured a job as a firefighter. In the meantime, Hoekstra was fairly settled back at home in Canada. She was the mom to two young children and was busy raising her family as a single mother.
However, in 2016 Parry and Hoekstra’s stars accidentally collided. The firefighter was home in Ontario visiting family and friends when the pair bumped into each other at a bar. They exchanged numbers and soon started talking over the phone.
Their calls quickly progressed to dates. Then, less than a month into their whirlwind romance, Parry knew that she was the one. So, he wasted no time in asking Hoekstra to marry him during a visit to Louisiana. And he was over the moon when she said yes.
The couple made plans to marry a year later, on September 10, 2017, in Galveston, TX. With the date fast approaching, Parry and Hoekstra started buying supplies for their big day. They purchased everything from decorations to wedding favors and stored them in Parry’s home.
And just weeks before her nuptials, Hoekstra made one the most important purchases any bride could make. It was, of course, her wedding dress. After searching high and low, she had finally found the perfect one for her.
Now that she’d finally found a dress, Hoekstra took the item down to Lumberton in anticipation of her wedding. She hung it in one of Parry’s wardrobes and warned him not to look at it. After all, she didn’t want any bad luck to tarnish her dream day.
But while Parry and Hoekstra did all that they could to ensure a drama-free wedding day, fate had other ideas. On August 25, 2017, just weeks before the couple’s big day, Hurricane Harvey smashed into Texas. The tropical cyclone went on to cause $200 billion worth of damage and claim more than 80 lives.
As a firefighter, Parry was at the forefront of the rescue efforts in Texas. The state suffered major flooding in the wake of the hurricane. So, for weeks he helped to pull people from their water-logged homes. However, he never thought that soon he’d be in the same position himself.
Parry’s Lumberton home had initially escaped the storm unscathed. As the floodwaters rose, however, it became evident that his house was no longer safe. So, between back-to-back firefighting shifts, he rushed to his property to see if anything could be recovered.
With the clock working against him, Parry had to prioritize what items to save. He moved his dirt bikes to a higher position before grabbing his two precious dogs and their puppies. Then, he rushed into the spare room and bundled Hoekstra’s beloved wedding dress on to the upper shelf in his wardrobe.
Now, all he could do was hope for the best. In fact, he didn’t have much time to think about his own possessions. Because, after securing his home as best he could, he went back to work saving people from the floods.
It wasn’t until days later that Parry was able to return home and inspect the flood damage. Upon his arrival, he wasn’t hopeful about finding anything worth keeping. “I got out of the boat, and I am neck-deep in water,” he subsequently told CNN. “I open the door of my house, and I know it’s a complete loss.”
Nonetheless, Parry decided to take a look inside anyway. And as he did so, he broadcast the whole thing on Facebook Live. It soon became apparent that the floods had been disastrous. One of the first things that the firefighter came across were his ruined wedding supplies, which were now floating in muddy water.
Still, Parry pushed through to his spare bedroom to check on the one item that mattered most – Hoekstra’s wedding dress. He wasn’t optimistic when he opened the wardrobe door, but he got a pleasant surprise. Incredibly, the flood waters had stopped rising just inches below the gown, leaving it bone dry and unharmed.
Parry subsequently delivered the dress to the safety of his firehouse. It was the only part of their wedding, however, that escaped the devastation of the hurricane. As a result, the couple decided to postpone their nuptials for the time being.
In comparison to others in Lumberton, though, Parry and Hoekstra considered themselves lucky. “Right now our focus is on the community – thousands of people without homes,” Parry told The Knot. “We want to help them get their life back together.”
Nevertheless, Parry also had to rebuild his own life. Consequently, his sister-in-law created a GoFundMe page to help the couple get back on their feet. “I need to find a place to live. I need to buy some clothes,” Parry told CNN. “All I have now is a pair of shorts, some underwear and my two fire department uniforms.”
But although their lives and wedding day laid in tatters, Parry and Hoekstra saw the rescued gown as a sign of hope. “The dress was just a silver lining, knowing that our day is supposed to happen, someday, sometime,” Hoekstra told The Huffington Post.