Group of students helps rescue senior citizens
While Hurricane Harvey drenched the city with rain, a group of four University of Houston students teamed up with several Third Ward residents to help rescue tenants from a flooded apartment housing elderly people near campus on Sunday before the National Guard could arrive at the location.
The group began its efforts late Sunday morning when they saw someone asking for help on the second floor of the Beall Village apartments, a housing complex for seniors on North MacGregor Way.
“Basically, we jumped in and did whatever we could,” said Kendal Hadley, a kinesiology junior. “Everybody on the first floor either got evacuated to the second or higher floor, and whoever was willing to leave, we brought out to the Campus Vue parking garage and housed them until we could get them help.”
Floodwater was knee-high on the first floor when they began the rescue efforts around 10 a.m., Hadley said, but they moved six people to the Campus Vue parking garage and at least 10 to a higher floor in the apartment complex.
They continued the rescue effort until 3 or 4 p.m., Hadley said.
Sunny Gotewal, a biomedical sciences sophomore at the Honors College, said some of the rescued elderly people were disabled.
“There was floodwater everywhere, and they couldn’t move because of the flood,” he said. “They were on the bottom floor.”
With permission, Gotewal said, the students picked up people with disabilities and took them to the second floor of the building.
“They got abandoned by the people who own that place,” Hadley said. “Their caretakers just dipped out. They left them to just ride this out on their own.”
The group — Hadley, Gotewal, Hunter Legrange and eventually Student Government Association President Winni Zhang — called 911 and the National Guard throughout the rescue and were eventually aided by the latter.
“There were immobile people that we couldn’t get out of the nursing home,” Gotewal said. “We needed specialized forces who are professionals … because we couldn’t lift people in motorized wheelchairs through the floods.”
Eventually, the National Guard arrived with helicopters and evacuated the people who needed to leave, Gotewal said.
There might be 20 people still at Beall Village, Hadley said, because they chose not to leave the complex.