He spent the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey combing the flooded byways of southeast Texas, trying to rescue as many victims of the storm as he could using his boat and a jet ski.
But when a picture of him in a rescue boat hit social media and caught fire, it launched a search of its own — a frantic hunt to track down “hot rescue guy.” And his search party of internet admirers has affectionately dubbed the man #RescueBae.
Those who know him call him Raz Halili, and he’s a man from Kemah, Texas, according to KTRK. He tells the TV station that he was just trying to do his part after Hurricane Harvey dumped as much as 50 inches of rain in parts of Texas, flooding countless homes and leaving many stranded.
“The first thing we saw was a man on a canoe which flipped over in a creek, and the current started taking him away,” Halili told KTRK, detailing the beginning of his volunteer rescue work with his cousin Gezim. “We actually went down a street, into a gated community with an oyster boat, which is something I never thought I would do.”
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The pair traveled across southeast Texas — from Port Arthur to Dickinson to Friendswood — using boating skills from managing their family’s oyster business to aid stranded Texans.
The hunt for Halili online began when Ariel Marie, who was herself rescued from the storm (regrettably, not by #RescueBae), posted his photo on Facebook.
The picture was from a friend who had also been saved from the storm, and told Marie how good looking her rescuer had been.
“She said she has a picture of him,” Marie told KTRK. “I said, ‘Girl, you have to send me the picture.’”
Marie posted it on Facebook on Sept. 5 — and as of Wednesday, it had been shared nearly 7,000 times and liked by 12,000 appreciative, swooning Facebook users.
And there was no shortage of compliments for Halili.
“Got a jawline for days!” one Facebook user wrote.
Another gushed: “That man is a blessing.”
Many called him a lookalike of Shemar Moore, an actor from the soap opera “Days of Our Lives.”
Marie said she just wanted to thank him for helping rescue people after the storm.
“Yes, you’re fine, but you're also amazing and you have an amazing heart,” she told KTRK. “I had to find him.”
And eventually the post reached far enough that Halili’s Facebook friends started tagging him in it.
But how did the picture that launched a thousand comments come to be?
“We were helping the Coast Guard out. They were having trouble with their motor,” Halili explained, adding that “I had to get a selfie with the Coast Guard. It's not every day you get a selfie with the Coast Guard.”
Halili said he appreciate the humor in being #RescueBae — but, crushing hopes and dreams across Facebook, he also tells KTRK that he’s not single.
Marie says she’s just glad she could provide Harvey victims with a laugh and a diversion as families start assessing damage and rebuilding after the storm.
“A lot of people have messaged me and thanked me, saying thank you for the laughter. I think we all needed that relief,” Marie said.