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Nursing home residents saved from waist-high water during Hurricane Harvey

A frightening scene of nursing home residents being stuck in water up to their waists during Hurricane Harvey has come to a happy ending.
/ Source: TODAY

One of the most gripping scenes to come out of Hurricane Harvey involved a group of elderly women submerged up to their waists in murky water as their Texas nursing home flooded around them.

Timothy McIntosh, the son-in-law of the La Vita Bella facility's owner, Trudy Lampson, pleaded for help from rescuers Sunday morning by tweeting a photo taken by Lampson to show how dire the situation had become.

The placid faces of the women sitting on couches and wheelchairs as the water appears dangerously high was an eye-opening image of a storm expected to dump as much as 50 inches of rain in some spots in southern Texas.

The women's ordeal ultimately had a happy ending, as 18 people were airlifted on Sunday from the flooded La Vita Bella assisted living facility in Dickinson, a city located about 30 miles from Houston in Galveston County, and subsequently relocated to other facilities in Texas.

McIntosh, whose wife, Kimberly, was in contact with her mother throughout the ordeal, was trying to do the best he could to rally help for the facility while at his home in Tampa, Florida.

Many people initially thought the startling photo was fake before Dickinson emergency management coordinator David Popoff confirmed to the local Galveston County Daily News that 18 people indeed had been evacuated from La Vita Bella.

Ten of the women are now at Laurel Court, a facility about 20 miles away in Alvin, Laurel Court executive director Sondra Hare confirmed to TODAY.

"They're doing well," Laurel Court spokesman Rick Van Warner told TODAY. "The facility was able to get them hot showers, hot meals and care right away ... They're all resting comfortably, and seem to be in decent spirits.

"We are just so happy this all turned out well,'' McIntosh told TODAY.

Lampson has been overwhelmed by the ordeal and is declining interviews, McIntosh said.

Laurel Court reached out to La Vita Bella with an offer to take in the residents once they learned of their situation.

"We were honored to help get them over there,'' Van Wagner said. "We're in the helping business, so we definitely reached out. We had space, and warm beds."

McIntosh credited Galveston city manager Brian Maxwell and deputy city manager Dan Buckley for providing regular updates of the residents' status and helping facilitate the rescue by the Galveston Office of Emergency Management by pushing La Vita Bella to the top of the priority list.

"They are the true heroes in this story,'' McIntosh said.

As far as how long the women will stay at Laurel Court, that will most likely be determined on a case-by-case basis.

"I think it ends up being a family decision,'' Van Wagner said. "They're welcome to stay as long as they need to. At this point, they went through quite an ordeal, so it's mainly about making sure they're comfortable, happy, warm and well."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.