‘Need Help ASAP.’ The Story Behind the Photo of Nursing Home Residents Trapped in Hurricane Flood Water
'We thought the situation was dire'
An elderly woman’s legs disappeared under waist-deep water from Hurricane Harvey as the storm’s flooding flowed into the La Vita Bella Nursing Home on Sunday in Dickinson, TX.
The unidentified woman wasn’t the only one submerged in the rising waters pouring into the nursing home. A now-viral photo first shared on Twitter showed at least six other women and a cat trapped in the same green-colored water that filled the room.
Kim and Tim McIntosh, whose mother owns the assisted living center, received the photo around 8 a.m. Sunday. “Then no more contact,” they said in an email.
The McIntosh’s decided to post the photo on Twitter shortly after, pleading with emergency services for help. “We thought the situation was dire,” they said.
“Need help asap emergency services please RETWEET,” Tim tweeted shortly after his first message. The first tweet garnered more than 2,400 likes and resulted in quick action from local rescue teams.
Emergency officials rescued 18 people, including 15 nursing-home residents, from La Vita Bella Sunday afternoon, Dickinson emergency management coordinator David Popoff told the Galveston County Daily News. “We were air-lifting grandmothers and grandfathers,” Popoff told the Daily News.
Emergency officials updated the McIntosh’s every 30 minutes until everyone was out safely. “We were very fortunate and are thankful for all the retweets, media contacts, and especially the promptness of Galveston emergency services along with the National Guard. All together, they saved many lives today,” they added in the email.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas Friday, and though it was downgraded to a tropical storm Saturday, it brought unprecedented flooding to southeast Texas. Rain is expected to continue through the middle of this week.
“The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before,” the National Weather Service said in a statement Sunday. “Catastrophic flooding is now underway and expected to continue for days.”