HOUSTON, TEXAS (CBSMiami) – The owners of a nursing home where elderly residents were stranded during Hurricane Harvey took to social media to get help and users helped get the word around until their rescue.
La Vita Bella nursing home in Dickinson, Texas is about 30 miles southeast of downtown Houston.
Ruth Miller was one of fifteen elderly residents stranded.
“They had already called 911, and even the TV was saying, don’t call 911 anymore…..Because 911 was just inundated…and nobody is coming to rescue them,” said Susan Bobrick, Miller’s sister.
The owner’s son in law – Timothy McIntosh – posted a picture of the stranded group on Twitter with the caption: “Need help asap emergency services. please RETWEET.” It was re-tweeted hundreds of times.
“I don’t do a whole lot of tweeting, but I was like, well, let’s put it on Twitter, see if we can get some action from it,” said McIntosh over the phone from his Florida home.
About three hours after they tweeted the photo, all 15 senior citizens were rescued.
“My thanks are definitely out to not just the authorities but also to all the Twitter followers that actually believed the story and re-tweeted it and got everything in motion,” said McIntosh.
An official said rescuers were already on the way when the photo started getting attention online.
It was just one of many social media posts calling attention to people needing rescues including a Facebook group with over 80 thousand followers that formed during the storm.
Agencies including FEMA, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Houston Police Department asked people not to use social media for rescue requests.
Houston Police said, “911 is the best way to capture your request and make sure it is properly dispatched.”