Nursing home flood

Residents of La Vita Bella in Dickinson sit in waist-deep water during Hurricane Harvey. Fifteen residents of the assisted living facility were rescued by boat in August 2017, according to Dickinson emergency management officials.


Fifteen senior citizens were rescued from a Dickinson assisted living community, hours after a viral photo showing them sitting in waist-deep water went viral.

Dickinson emergency management coordinator David Popoff confirmed that 18 people were rescued from La Vita Bella, an assisted living facility in the 3500 block of Oak Drive in Dickinson.

Popoff confirmed the rescue by phone to The Daily News at noon on Sunday, hours after a post on Twitter showing at least eight people, and one cat, sitting in a room with water up to their waists.

“We were air-lifting grandmothers and grandfathers,” Popoff said.

Timothy McIntosh, of Tampa, Fla., sent the original tweet, which was re-tweeted more than 2,000 times.

The Daily News reached out to McIntosh on Twitter, and then spoke to him over the phone. He said the picture was sent to him by Trudy Lampson, his mother-in-law and the owner of the La Vita Bella, at about 9 a.m.

The Daily News attempted to reach Lampson by phone, but she did not return calls.

Kimberly McIntosh, Lampson’s daughter and Timothy’s wife, said she spoke to her mother on Sunday morning.

“She said it was a disaster and they were hoping the National Guard would come,” Kimberly McIntosh said.

The unbelievable picture led many to question its authenticity. Before publishing, The Daily News sent the photo to Popoff, who is helping supervising hundreds of rescues in Dickinson.

“These people have been evacuated,” Popoff said. He then confirmed the evacuation from La Vita Bella specifically in a phone call.

During a press conference on Sunday afternoon, Galveston County Judge Mark Henry also confirmed the rescue.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.


Recommended for you

(48) comments

Andrea Whiting

Happy they were able to get the residents out. Hopefully they took the kittie too.

Laduskye Withers

They might have been transported to hospitals by helicopter, but the first four rescued were by private boat by Santa Fe residents.

kenrozhouse Ee

yea really. that water is deep. that had to take sometime to feel up like that. were was the supervision?

Laduskye Withers

Correction... they were rescued by boat by private citizens. They may have been transported by helicopter.

Ruth Wakefield

This is horrific treatment to our seniors. They should have been moved before the storm got here. Poor planning on managements part. I would not want to sit in that water (hypothermia) especially with thin clothing and diapers soaking up water. Just use common sense and have an evacuation plan. God bless them to endure such treatment.

Steven Robertson

Poor planning, true. But to be clear, part of whatever plan they had obviously gave little to no consideration for these seniors.

Kim Baldwin

Thank you Ruth! This is a privately owned assisted living facility (not cheap) and they do have an evacuation plan but obviously did not evacuate. Regardless of what Dickinson Emergency Mgmt. advised, the owner is responsible for the welfare of the residents. It rained ALL night! Why wasn't a better decision made sooner to get these disabled seniors out of harms way? In good circumstances, most of these residents are usually cold but to see them like this is appalling. They deserve so much better!

Laura Patterson

The facility in question evacuated for Rita, Ike and in both instances returned to unsanitry flooding and months of repairs for facility to be liveable. Improper consideration of residents and igorance on part of owner what big on dirty side means, apparently lacking intelligent resources to make life threatening situation.

william devall

Those of you who are not living this experience need to understand that being critical and giving your analysis of what you think should have been DOES NOT HELP. What we need is your prayers, your donations or your help.

Kim Baldwin

To William Devall... I am living it and I am praying and it still should not have happened!

Steven Robertson

OUTRAGED that you somehow allowed your clients to be left like this. There is NO EXCUSE. What the hell kind of operation are you running? If nothing else you could have done a damn Facebook post that seniors were stranded and needed help – trucks or boats would have been there within the hour. This should have been done on Wednesday (ON STAND BY), on Thursday (ON STAND BY), on Friday (LEAVE NOW OR CRITICAL STAND BY), SATURDAY MAYBE????? IT’S SUNDAY. You know damn well a lot of these seniors do not have the ability for recourse and often limited or no family to make sure they are not abused. You have way overstepped even the most blatant levels of exploitation I’ve seen done in these facilities. No doubt, at all, other abuses were occurring if this is the level of give-a-damn given for these seniors.

Your best bet right now is to get on a plane and pay some jerk off to snap a picture or two of you doing something other than being in Florida. Contact the best attorney you know. By 10:00 AM Monday send an email to local news outlets that you screwed up, are diligently arranging for these seniors to go to a legitimate (as in, not associated with you) facility, are arranging a hassle free financial remedy for every single patient you put in a swimming pool, donate 10K to the Red Cross on behalf of the facility, and make clear you are never doing business in this State again.

Expect the community and a whole pool of thirsty attorneys to help you with this decision making since yours is obviously piss poor. Take a loss right now on this to prevent a much larger one. ABSOLUTELY SHAMEFUL.

Kim Baldwin

Steven, I posted a comment right before yours but If you were directing your comments at me, I am NOT the owner. The owner's name is Trudy Lampson. I agree with absolutely everything you said about what the owner should have done but didn't. I hope the resident's loved ones will do what they should about this situation now.

kenrozhouse Ee

agreed, they really messed up on this one. you would think they have family members asking questions or calling in with concerns, unless they did and they were lied to. either way its still the managements fault and it shows that its all about the money these days.. they say they care and do this to help but in reality its show me the money.

Nancy Parsons

Please keep us informed! I am so far away and feel helpless at this moment. I would like To, in some way, help these folks recover from this tragedy. Please let me know where they have been taken and how to reach their caregivers!

LeRose LeQ

Somebody from local state officials should look into this, as to why Corporate, Administrative, DON of facility allowed this to happen. There is no excuse, health facilities have priority with receiving aide from state, buses could of been provided and everyone of those residents would of been evacuated in a timely manner. I guarantee you they held meetings discussing what the facility should do, whoever made the final decision I hope the law falls heavily on their shoulders. Department of Justice should look into this as a severe case of neglect! Rose RN

Shelly Price

AND where were they to go? South, to Galveston with unknown storm surges? East, to Louisiana where the storm was headed? North, into Houston where roads flood if it sprinkles? No one knew what direction the storm was going and had someone loaded these people into vehicles and they were drowned in flooded roads, you guys would STILL think "a better decision should have been made."
Shame on you if you're in the Houston area trying to arm chair quarterback these situations. And if you're NOT in Houston and passing judgement, how about you rolling your butt down here and getting yourself a big heaping spoonful of the moment by moment decisions that have to be made.
These poor people were uncomfortable for a few hours but they are ALIVE.

Steven Robertson

Are you really this dumb or do you work for the company? You are actually suggesting they should not have moved them because they didn't know where to take them? HMMMM.. maybe a hospital? A HILL?

Kim Baldwin

Shelly, my comment was, "Why wasn't a better decision made SOONER to get these disabled seniors out of harms way?" I see you conveniently left that word out. If they had been evacuated even on Friday before the FORECASTED catastrophic flooding they would NOT have had to endure what you so blithely say was "uncomfortable for a few hours." Your lack of compassion for some of the most vulnerable in society is surprising. Maybe you never had a loved one shivering cold and not even one care giver offered to get something to keep them warm. It's heartbreaking!

LeRose LeQ

I am near the area, keeping informed through social media, tv and radio, the warnings I saw they could of seen as well, as a medical professional "we" are responsible for the well being of the residents/ pts. Thursday I assisted in the evacuation of a medical facility, we had wheelchair bound individuals with tracheostomies and oxygen and G-tubes who are "medically fragile" , they were transferred into a bus that held 4 residents each, we had 69 residents total in similar condition, we had buses and buses parked at the facility, it was a lot of work and chaos for all the staff present and assisting but you know what, that was our duty and responsibility to make sure They were kept safe, and because of the uncertainty of how bad this was going to get, they should of been evacuated especially knowing from past experiences that it gets flooded! I have also seen evacuations of medical facilities by the national guard, my point is that help was available, there were other options , than to sit in place and ride it out. I guarantee you, if one of your family member was sitting in that cold water, hungry, scared and disoriented you'd feel differently. Yes they have been rescued, they are safe now, But the fact they experienced this, will never go away. I'm sad to think of their health after sitting in cold dirty water, pneumonia can be deadly for geriatrics, they have low immune system and they can't fight illnesses or diseases as easily as you and I can, they easily get hypothermic there is so much to watch out for, They are Not out of "the woods" just because they have been rescued. I understand not many people see what goes on "behind the scenes" of these facilities, I do, and I know this shouldn't of happened. More people need to speak up for these residents, they depend on us.. on you and me ... we should be their voices. This needs to be prevented from happening again!

Kim Baldwin

LaRose, just to clarify, that facility is not a nursing home. It is an assisted living facility and privately owned by Trudy Lampson. The state does regulate but NOT with the same criteria as a nursing home. They can still be reported to the state if a person has a concern that there might be abuse. What you said about how they may be medically affected is so very true. You are absolutely right, "this shouldn't of happened"

LeRose LeQ

"At La Vita Bella, we believe that a Family Environment brings dignity and happiness to our residents. While there’s no place like Home, we are committed to providing our residents with caring, highest quality individual care." - From the actual website of this facility.
This facility is regulated by DADS. Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services Facility ID 000842.
State / DOJ will be involved in finding out the details and holding those accountable for this situation. Not only Trudy Lampson but other personnel present at facility, from management to Floor staff.

Judy Weinberg

[scared] I hope you realize that awful, insane, terrible, outstanding photograph is Pulitzer material.


These nursing home abuse the elderly all the time.

LeRose LeQ

Sherry if you see or know of the abuse going on then please report it. Most elderly in places like these fear speaking up or telling their family members because they fear they will get punished or abused more for telling someone. Anyone who works in such facilities and witnesses abuse is obligated to stop the abuse, have the abuser removed from the area and asses or comfort the abused individual and most importantly report it. You can remain anonymous.

Tresa Knoff

One word...ABUSE. This will be just the beginning of the end once legal is involved. I live in the midwest, and have been a nursing home administrator. Horified and disqusted and agree with the posts. There is NO excuse for what happened in that assisted living facility. I have never in my life been as sickened by the sight of those, our vulnerable elders. SHAME ON THOSE OWNERS!

Laura Howard R.N.

As a nursing home administrator I am appalled to actually read your response. I pray god never puts you in that position. I also pray that you would wait to hear all facts before passing judgement on others. I'll pray for you.

Tresa Knoff

Also no one needs to report this. It's all over the world now and the state of Texas will have to step up

Steven Robertson

Reached out to Tammy via cell phone number 281 546 4960. Pulled it from the link below. She didn't feel she had to give an explanation. Man.. if it were suggested that I was involved with the outright abuse and neglect of some of our communitie's most vulnerable (children and elderly), I would at least say "no look, you have it wrong." Nope.

Hope the people posting here with concerns will dedicated 30 minutes, that's it, to making sure these elderly patients have some type of voice. Get in contact with one attorney office and one state or federal organization. I don't even care if they said do not evacuate.. overwhelming common sense, professional responsibility, and medical duty would have prevented this. Let's make sure this company and it's management never, ever be in a position of care over the elderly again - at least not in Texas.

LeRose LeQ

Steven Robertson I agree with you, and an investigation has already been launched. to the person commenting " no need to report this" bc it's already all over the media, you are wrong, it still needs to be reported to have a proper case. That is what's wrong with people who see something and just stand back thinking " oh someone else can do something about it"... you can't be certain of that unless you personally have made a stand/ report. I did my part and will follow up, most certain that this facility will be investigated to full extent, and hopefully shut down and responsible parties prosecuted.

Tresa Knoff

You may be right...I am confident in our small Midwestern state, the state authorities would have brought their own row boats seeing this story or the neighbors would have called them. But let's not quibble. It's horrendous regardless.

Meka Jones

Just wanted to let everyone know that this incident is under full investigation. Once we are finished we will inform the public of our decision.
Kathryn Malmean

Laura Howard R.N.

I am sickened by all the hateful and trash talking on here about this incident. This assisted living facilities is one of the nicest places I've ever had the pleasure to see residents in. The carebthey receive is exceptional. It's a loving home environment with home cooked meals . The residents there are cared for far better than most people treat their own parents. This residence as well as ALL other residences were told by the city of Dickinson to stay put. They were told not to evacuate. They reached out for hours when they saw the water rising but were unable to get help. How dare you all pass judgment on these caregivers who do selfishlesslybgave their lives to take care of these ladies. Instead of your sarcasm and anger, you should all be praying for their health and safety.

Steven Robertson


Kim Baldwin

Laura, What is that smell? Oh, I think its what Steven said, "BULL"
The care is not "exceptional"... just like anywhere else, some of the caregivers appear loving & kind, some are pretending so family members think things are good... & just like anywhere else, some are related or best friend of owner or manager (BTW, Are you?) and have their own "spin" on the facts. They do cook meals for the residents. Bean soup is an example but should be a rare thing (It does have protein & fiber but its cheap & LOADED with sodium)... not so great for the elderly...
I do not pass judgment on the caregivers, they are just trying to eke out a living. Just wondering... Are any of them actually CNAs? And...
How dare you scold people as if the outrage over what the picture shows is inappropriate or assume that the people commenting are not praying? I am praying for the residents... for their health, safety, care & wellbeing, etc... And for the justice they deserve.

Laura Howard R.N.

I'll pray that God gives you the peace that you need to move on. The residents here are cared for and loved whenever their own families are unable to do so. Prayers for you and the others that have such a hard heart that you can't see these caregivers did they best they could in a bad situation. That being said I hope you are safe and dry and didnt encounter any of exponential tragedies that have arisen over the past several days. God Bless.

Kim Baldwin

Laura, I have peace but those residents sure didn't. You say, " The residents here" Do you work there? That would explain your biased opinion. Your comments sound like a medical person who is so used to people dying that they underestimate how well a person should be treated while alive.

James Flex II

I live several doors down and we went from dry to 36" in minutes
We checked on them and called 911 and was told " they are on a list"
Other neighbors stayed w them and we left our home to get to main highway to flag down help
Took 6 hours before help came w water rising
One guy w us was nearly run over by a boat he was trying to flag down
We sent messages to media and friends we thought could get them help
It is a nice place but if they were going some place, it needed to happen days earlier

Kim Baldwin

AGREE! When you choose to have a business caring for 16 vunerable elderly people, you don't second guess the emergency mgmt directions for your city. Dickinson called for a voluntary evacuation on Thursday, more than 48 hours before the historically heavy rains began falling. David Popoff, Dickinson’s Emergency Manager, said he was upset the residents were not evacuated when the voluntary call went out. The residents meet the criteria of those warned to leave before the storm. They had medical and mobility issues and were in a low-lying area. “That concerns me,” he said.

Mike Trube

Isn't it better to use common sense and be safe than sorry afterwards? We are talking about human lives. Listening to others (don't evaluate, stay put), isn't always the best advice. I will always do what I think is best for me. But being responsible for other lives would put my radar on high alert and do whatever and by any means possible to make sure they are safe. Excuses are dime a dozen. Just my opinion.


Laura Howard R.N.

My final thoughts. As you all sit here passing judgment on others I am on my way out to actually help those in need . I don't pass judgment on anyone. I leave that to God, As should you. God bless you all and I hope you find it in your hearts to get off this feed and reach out to someone who might need you. Also to clarify, I am a medical person. I do take care of living and dying people everyday. I believe that everyone, no matter how good or bad you are , deserves great care. I do not work for this company but am a great friend to all who live and work there..

Kim Baldwin

Knew you were friends... And, You do judge by saying, "find it in your hearts to get off this feed and reach out to someone who might need you." Already reaching out to people in need... posting comments by smart phone.

Wild Mywildersyde

Honestly, there's no excuse for this neglect. Elderly people who live in these type of facilities pay out the nose for proper care and treatment! I am getting sick and tired of these facilities putting these residents who are vulnerable adults at risk. There needs to be legislation in place in these states that are in hurricane or tornado paths that requires them to relocate residents before these major storms are due to hit when it's confirmed that they're going to hit inland. I don't care if they have to send them out to the west coast on temporary vacations, but they need to have emergency funds set aside for emergency evacuations and long term care directives in place ahead of any major storm, wildfire, earthquake, etc. or these facilities need to be shutdown.

Valarie Howard

I don't know who's fault this was/is. But,if those were my family members,someone would be explaining to me what in the world was goin on? Praying for all of those involved! Praying for Texans too!! May God Bless You All!

Linda Hutchison

Just my two cents ... that was my family home for most of my childhood. Went through many hurricanes during that time and the house NEVER flooded. Hindsight is 20/20. I am so thankful that those lovely elders are safe, and their pets! Wish I could be there to help! Take good care of each other, you're in our hearts.

Kim Baldwin

When you choose to have a business caring for 16 vunerable elderly people, you don't second guess the emergency mgmt directions for your city. Dickinson called for a voluntary evacuation on Thursday, more than 48 hours before the historically heavy rains began falling. David Popoff, Dickinson’s Emergency Manager, said he was upset the residents were not evacuated when the voluntary call went out. The residents meet the criteria of those warned to leave before the storm. They had medical and mobility issues and were in a low-lying area. “That concerns me,” he said.

Boi Bom

I'm appalled and disgusted by what I am reading here! If I didn't know better, I'd think there were people posting who have some kind of score to settle with this facility or the owners. Or maybe they've just got a naturally critical spirit. I don't actually know with certainty since y'all are simply names in a comment section to me, so I won't jump to any absolute conclusions (which is something I've seen a lot of here).

My first question is why didn't the families come get their loved ones? Wouldn’t you do that? Without a doubt, I would have. If there's an emergency situation, I want my loved ones with me. Had the families come for their mother or grandmother or aunt, etc., the logistics of an evacuation for the facility would have been considerably more manageable. CONSIDERABLY!

But, putting that aside, my second question is, how is it that everyone is so knowledgeable AFTER the fact?! Everyone knows that hindsight is 20/20. If this facility had evacuated these ladies (whose families really should have picked them up) and the storm ended up hitting the destination location and Dickinson was spared, I have the suspicion that some here would be ready to jump in and criticize them for taking the ladies into harm’s way. Again, just a suspicion, but it does fit with my question as to whether there’s a personal vendetta or just a critical spirit. Or a combination of both. Who knows? Y’all know your own hearts. Or you should.

Part of my extended family lives less than a mile from La Vita Bella. They are, in fact, two separate households who are not related to each other. From all indications and from decades of hurricane experiences and being well acquainted with the history of previous storms in this area, they independently opted not to leave. Early next morning to their amazement, both households (in their 70s and 80s) had to be rescued by boat!

Linda Hutchison was kind enough to tell us about her experience living in that house before it became a personal care home. It sounds as if her family would have also chosen to shelter in place given the history she spoke about. Yet, folks will not hear of it! La Vita Bella is guilty of ______________ (fill in the blank), and that’s the end of the discussion! If this facility got flooded because a rain event did a freaky thing and stalled over the area and released copious amounts of rain, it’s only because the owners and employees were negligent, mean, uncaring and probably lazy. It couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with the fact that this was a storm of Biblical proportions and was unlike anything even the old-timers had ever seen in this area.

There will be an investigation. There always is. But it’s hardly helpful to try and convict the facility (owners and personnel) in a comment section on a newspaper website. I admit it’s difficult to see those ladies sitting in that water. It tugs at the heart. Still, I try to examine the situation with clarity rather than be reactionary in my assessment. Things are rarely what they seem.

BTW, did anyone see how cruelly those nursing home patients in Port Arthur were treated? Why, it’s a regular epidemic here in Southeast Texas! (Sorry. Just a little dark humor at y’all’s expense.)

mark grogan

That picture looks absolutely terrible and I cannot imagine anybody staying there, or even storing anything of value in that place any longer! Thank goodness that they've all been evacuated. I hope that all the old folk were able to get out of there without too many repercussions.

tinh kieu

I hope the law falls heavily on their shoulders.

Welcome to the discussion.

Real Names required. No pseudonyms or partial names allowed. Stand behind what you post.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.