At the same time Robert was dealing his dilemma, KHOU 11 News was coping with its own emergency.
Flooding along Buffalo Bayou started pouring into the station before sunrise. By 7 a.m., staff moved to the second floor to continue providing viewers with the latest on the floods. When water started gushing through the station’s main and back doors, managers made the decision to evacuate the building.
Reporter Brandi Smith flagged down a Harris County Sheriff's Office truck to rescue Robert Roberson.
While the KHOU 11 staff at the station scrambled to a backup location, the last live shot punched up was from the North Sam Houston Tollway, just on the other side of the overpass from where Robert’s truck was stuck.
KHOU 11 reporter Brandi Smith and photographer Mario Sandoval were showing viewers what they could, including high water on the main lanes, the frontage road completely underwater.
The pair moved to the other side of the overpass, which is when Sandoval pointed out the truck and Smith noted the lights were on, as were the windshield wipers. The next observation: there was movement inside. It was Robert who was still frantically looking for his phone.
Smith and Sandoval rushed to the railing of the overpass, warning Robert to stay inside his truck and to not try to swim to safety. When a Harris County Sheriff’s Office truck towing a boat drove by, Smith flagged it down.
“There’s a truck driver stuck here in about 10 feet of water,” she told the deputies.
As they got out to assess the situation, one deputy told Smith a truck driver died at the same intersection in 2016.
“He didn’t know it was as deep as it was. It was on the flipside of the freeway,” the deputy said. “We had to go dive for him because he passed away and went underwater.”
The pair hustled to get the airboat in the water, which seemed as though it took a lifetime. In the end, it was just in time to save a life. Robert says, just as he finally reached his phone, the boat arrived outside the passenger side window of his truck.
Two Harris County Sheriff's deputies were able to launch an airboat and pull Robert Roberson out of his flooded truck.
KHOU 11 viewers weren’t able to see the rescue live, though; the signal dropped off before deputies reached Robert.
Luckily, Sandoval was rolling almost the entire time, which allowed Smith to share the video on Facebook afterward. In that video, Smith and Sandoval rushed to meet Robert as deputies dropped him off.
“Sir, thank God you’re OK. How does feel to be on land?” Smith asked.
“Wonderful, wonderful,” Robert answered.
WATCH: In their own words: Brandi Smith, Mario Sandoval recount trucker rescue