Elderly Texas residents rescued after photo of them in floodwater goes viral

DICKINSON, Texas – A dramatic viral image of elderly residents trapped in waist-deep water in a Texas nursing home amid catastrophic flooding resulted in those patients being rescued.

The photo was taken inside the La Vita Bella home in Dickinson, near Houston.

The photo was tweeted just before 9am by Tim and Kim McIntosh, nearly 1,000 miles away in Tampa, with a desperate plea for help. Kim told 10News her mother owns the facility. The family lived in San Antonio prior to moving to the Tampa area about a year ago, she said.

“This morning I texted (my mother) to see if they were okay and she texted this photo back and said that the water was basically waist high and they needed help,” Kim McIntosh told 10News by phone Sunday night.

She says her mother had made arrangements at nearby hotels but was told to not evacuate and instead shelter in place.

“She could’ve easily left and she was told not to,” Kim McIntosh said. “She would’ve evacuated in a minute if she had thought that they were in danger.”

The McIntosh’s quickly determined their best hope to get help would be to post the photo online.

“I was afraid they were all drowning,” McIntosh said. “My husband has a Twitter account so he went ahead and tweeted out the picture, thinking that someone would see it maybe nearby there and boat to get them.”

The tweet took off, quickly going viral, garnering nearly 3,000 re-tweets.

“We were desperate, desperate to get someone there and given we couldn’t get through to anybody I felt nobody was listening,” she said.

By a little after noon, the residents were rescued.

Some were quick to question the authenticity of the photo.

“That was heartbreaking to us,” McIntosh said. “It’s horrible when you know something is true and you’re just trying to get help and people don’t believe you.”

The Galveston Office of Emergency Management confirmed Sunday afternoon that it had rescued the residents from the facility.

The Galveston Daily News reports 15 seniors citizens were rescued.

“Thank you to the National Guard & the Galveston City Emergency crew for our rescue” Timothy McIntosh tweeted.

He went on to tweet, “Thanks to all the true believers that re-tweeted and got the news organizations involved. It pushed La Vita Bella to #1 on the priority list.”

© 2017 WTSP-TV

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