Houston bakers get trapped inside shop, bake tons of bread for Harvey victims

Four bakers at El Bolillo Bakery in Houston were forced to take shelter in their own shop after flooding from Hurricane Harvey trapped them indoors.

But instead of hunkering down and waiting to be rescued, they poured their energy into baking bread for hurricane victims throughout the city.

It all began on Saturday afternoon, as the shop was trying to fulfill orders for the local community as the rains came down. Bakery manager Brian Alvarado told The Washington Post that they didn’t anticipate how severe the storm would be, and that the workers ended up staying late, trying to bake enough bread for locals.

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"The rain increased, dropping like 10 inches in three hours and it flooded the area where they were," said Kirk Michaelis, owner of El Bolillo Bakery, to CBS News. "There was no exit for them. They couldn't get out.”

Even though they were desperate to get home to their families, the bakers decided to make the best of the troubling circumstances.

For the next 48 hours, the workers used 4,400 pounds of flour to prepare hundreds of loaves of bolillos, kolaches and pan dulce for storm victims. As Harvey raged on, they found motivation in the good their work would do for the community. "They knew it was going to be needed," Michaelis said.

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Luckily, though floodwaters rushed El Bolillo’s doors, they never lost power, said Alvarado.

When Michaelis was finally able to trudge through on Monday morning to evacuate his staff, he was pleasantly surprised to find the bakery’s cases and cooling racks filled to the brim with freshly baked goods. Knowing what poor shape Houston was in, Michaelis loaded up his jeep and brought it to shelters, nursing homes and law enforcement officials, CBS reports.

"We're not anything compared to some of the people out there working and doing amazing things," Michaelis said. "We're just doing our little part."

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The goodwill of the El Bolillo bakers has since gone viral, and won them praise as local heroes. Even former Mexican president and vocal critic of President Trump, Vicente Fox Quesada, chimed in to applaud their benevolence. 

The bakery has since fully reopened, with employees planning to continue baking 24/7 as Houston recovers in the wake of Harvey. A GoFundMe campaign has raised nearly $10,000.