For 32 hours, starting Wednesday afternoon, the 21-year-old was the only hotel employee. But for the guests who have relied on him for almost two days, he is a hero.
Angela Chandler, a guest at the hotel, praised Smith's temper in a Facebook post she has shared over 13,000 times. While the flooded roads kept his colleagues from getting to work, he wrote that Smith served the guests on his own
"He has the phones manned, answered every question, made sure we had a hot cup of coffee or tea and helped us serve a hot breakfast," Chandler wrote. "He has handled this situation with grace, courtesy and a beautiful smile on his face."
For someone trapped in the job, she seemed happy. But privately, part of Lamar University felt overwhelmed, she told CNN.
"It was quite intense," he said.
Formally positioned behind the reception, she was now the hotel's chef, attendant, room service employee and any other vacancies they needed to fill, even when her experience was lacking.
"I had never worked in a kitchen," he admitted. "I'm not really a good cook."
But she decided to cook anyway. One guest came in to help serve breakfast and some others with them to prepare dinner – a simple garlic bread pasta. He was pleasantly surprised that it tasted good, he said.
"Everyone seemed grateful for that," he said. "They said it was pretty satisfying."
Outside, the highways were closed and drivers were stuck in their cars, so Smith and his guests defied the flood to distribute food and water to the permanent trucks. After spending so much time together, the team had to get together, he said.
"The guests were very helpful," he said. "It was basically like a big family."
Finally, after a marathon change and glowing comments from visitors, Smith's partner did the work on Friday morning. He stayed for a few hours to help her, got a brief nap, then woke up and went back to work until his family could safely pick him up.
"Everything happens for a reason," he said.