Boat-owning volunteers rally to rescue people trapped in Houston flooding

Volunteer boat owners are rallying to the rescue in Houston. Credit: AP

The state of Texas is witnessing the worst of Mother Nature and the best of America.

As torrential rain continues to pummel the Houston area, leading to catastrophic flooding, there is a massive rescue operation underway.

With the emergency services stretched far beyond breaking point, civilian volunteers are descending on the area in boats and working around the clock to save lives.

Some of the scenes are not dissimilar to Dunkirk - hundreds of "little boats" being launched on the initiative of their owners, looking for people to pluck to safety.

Thousands of people issued calls for rescue. Credit: AP

At a time of intense division in America, with Donald Trump the most polarizing figure for a generation, and racial tensions soaring, there is something profoundly uplifting about what's occurring in the watery and battered suburbs of Houston.

Social media is spreading the word and the images.

With the 911 emergency number often overwhelmed, pleas for help are going out on Twitter.

And volunteers are responding.

The so-called 'Cajun Navy' has responded to pleas for help. Credit: AP

The "Cajun Navy" - boat owners from neighboring Louisiana, who saved so many after Hurricane Katrina - are riding to the rescue, urging people to stay strong until they arrive on the scene.

The call to the private captains went out on social media.

So the flat-bottomed, highly maneuverable swamp boats of Louisiana are joining the so-called Redneck Regatta of Texas.

The volunteers are saving lives.

But more than that, they are telling America that at a time of discord this country can still see beyond race and politics.