Nursing home resident rescued after viral photo of waist-high flooding describes experience

Viral nursing home flooding photo
Viral nursing home flooding photo 02:40

Photographs and videos show the devastating toll of Harvey on Texans. One of the most memorable images is from a nursing home where residents sitting in waist-deep water spread quickly online. Not long after, another picture showed the residents safe and dry at another facility.

"La vita bella" is Italian for the beautiful life, but life for the residents of the La Vita Bella nursing home in Dickinson, Texas, became unbearable after the fast-rising floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey poured in.

The photo of La Vita Bella nursing home residents sitting in flood waters that went viral. Trudy Lampson

Former resident Ruth Miller recounted her experience for CBS News' Jamie Yuccas.

"I didn't like it," Miller said. "It scares me because I did not feel safe."
As the water rose around Miller and her friends, the 64-year-old says staffers at La Vita Bella relied on a simple mantra: "Keep calm and collected."

Nursing home owners Trudy and Pete Lampson say they were initially told to shelter in place, but evacuation was soon their only option.

"Within about 45 minutes to an hour it went from ankle to stomach," Lampson said.  

To get help Trudy snapped a photo of residents in rising water and sent it to her daughter in Florida.

"I told my daughter, 'Do what you have to do,'" Trudy said.

The La Vita Bella residents after being rescued CBS News

A few hours after the image was posted on social media came the rescues, then the reunions.

"I was so happy," Miller said of the moment she first saw her older sister Susan Bobrick. She is now living with her.  

"How tragic this could have ended up. I think the water level rose there and luckily it held. It held," Bobrick said of how she felt seeing the picture.

Miller plans to live with her sister until they identify a suitable place to care for her needs.

The owners of La Vita Bella say they will rebuild, but there's no telling how long it will be until it's ready for residents.