HOUSTON (CBSNewYork) — The picture of nursing home residents sitting in waist deep water became a symbolic image of Hurricane Harvey.

People who saw the photo feared for the safety of those residents, and on Thursday we heard from one of them about the ordeal.

“I didn’t like it,” Ruth Miller told CBS2’s Jamie Yuccas. “It scares me, because I did not feel safe.”

As the water rose around Ruth Miller and her friends, the 64-year-old said staffers at La Vita Bella relied on a simple mantra.

“Keep calm and collected,” they repeated over and over.

142182efdf504d68a6492647b8b7c462 Relief And Reunions For Nursing Home Residents Caught In Harvey’s Water

There were frightening moments when Harvey’s waters began to flood La Vita Bella nursing home. (Credit: Trudy Lampson via CBS2)

Nursing home owners Trudy and Pete Lampson said they were initially told to shelter in place.

“This is where the water rose in this room,” Trudy said.

Evacuation was soon their only option.

“Within about 45 minutes to an hour it went from ankle to stomach,” Trudy 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,” she said.

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

“I was so happy,” Ruth said.

Ruth is now living with her older sister Susan Bobrick.

“How tragic this could have ended up, and I remember thinking, what if my sister dies? And how bad I’m gong to feel that there was nothing I could do,” Susan said.

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

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

Other women in the photograph are at another nursing home. The cat in the picture named Bozo, was also rescued and is doing okay.


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