Patients at a nursing home in Galveston, Texas, were airlifted to safety in a dramatic helicopter rescue on Sunday after harrowing images of the senior citizens sitting a flooded room surfaced on Twitter.
The severe flooding, caused by Hurricane Harvey, turned the La Vita Bella nursing home into a dangerous situation for the residents — many of whom depend on wheelchairs and oxygen tanks for survival, The New York Daily News reported.
The photo went viral when Timothy J. McIntosh shared it on Twitter and urged people to retweet and spread the word to hopefully get help for the residents. His efforts paid off as a helicopter evacuated 15 patients from the La Vita Bella nursing home, the Galveston County Daily News reported.
McIntosh received the picture of the nursing home from his mother-in-law, Trudy Lampson — who owns La Vita Bella, The New York Daily News reported.
Some Twitter users initially thought the image was fake, prompting McIntosh to post a follow-up tweet.
“Some Twitter users suspected the image was fake — but the couple says the photo is 100% real. A second image shows the water level rising in a corner of the room,” he wrote.
McIntosh’s wife, Kimberly, said her mother had sent the picture to her at 9 a.m. “She said it was a disaster and they were hoping the national guard would come,” Kimberly said of what led her husband to share the photo on social media, the Galveston County Daily News reported.
Hours after the McIntosh shared the post, Galveston County Office of Emergency Management confirmed that the patients were airlifted to safety from the home, the Galveston County Daily News reported. “We were air-lifting grandmothers and grandfathers,” said David Popoff, the city’s emergency management coordinator.
Popoff said that rescue efforts in Dickinson were still ongoing, but could not confirm how many had been performed.
“We’re still counting,” Popoff said.
Kimberly said her mother had been advised not to evacuate on Saturday ahead of the deadly storm since the facility had never been flooded before, the New York Daily News reported.
“It’s never even flooded past the sidewalk,”Kimberly said. “No one asked her to evacuate, but she has evacuation plans to leave.”
Lampson’s mother was once a patient at the La Vita Bella nursing home — something that Kimberly said created a deep connection for her own mother.
“She loves (the patients) like her family,” she said. “It’s her whole life.”
When the McIntoshs’ heard that the patients were safe, Timothy shared the good news on Twitter.
“RESCUED!! Thank you to the National Guard & the Galveston City Emergency crew for our rescue,” Timothy McIntosh wrote. “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.”
Hurricane Harvey caused extensive damage to homes through the southeast portion of Texas after it hit land in Rockport on Friday night. The storm as led to severe flooding in the Houston area. More than 300,ooo people also lost power from the high winds. It is believed that at least one person has died as a result of the floods, according to officials.