- The Washington Times - Monday, August 28, 2017

The aging residents of Texas’ La Vita Bella nursing home weren’t caught in the eye of Hurricane Harvey like their fellow Texans in and around Corpus Christi and Rockport.

They were caught, nonetheless, in Harvey’s hellish wrath, which dumped water along the Lone Star State’s Gulf Coast and isn’t forecast to peter out until later this week in Louisiana.

With recovery efforts underway, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump are set to touch down Tuesday in Austin so they can see what havoc Harvey hath wrought and what needs to be done to begin making Texans whole again.

It’s a daunting task, for sure. Authorities have to tend to the living and to the departed, whose remains are laid to rest in coastal graveyards that likely flooded.

Businesses that shuttered a week ago can begin evaluating their shops and office spaces, and public works and utility crews can assess and begin restoring a semblance of normalcy.

It’s far too early, however, to calculate destruction in dollars and cents. Comparisons are nonetheless in order, so prepare your back accounts: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, $120 billion; Hurricane Sandy, $75 billion; Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, $9 billion.

Better still is to look at human lives saved. In that regard, what happened to the elderly residents of La Vita Bella, trapped in Harvey’s watery grip, showed they weren’t exactly living a beautiful life on Sunday.

A tweet and photo popped up from author Timothy J. McIntosh. The text, time stamped 6:56 a.m. Sunday, said: “La vita Bella nursing home in Dickinson Texas is almost underwater with nursing home patients.” The photo showed a half-dozen seniors sitting in filthy, waist-high water.

The National Guard and the Galveston City responders rescued 15 people at the home.

“When the community we serve is in need, we are always ready to respond,” the National Guard tweeted later.

An extraordinary, life-saving story without doubt. Now the hard questions, if not from Mr. and Mrs. Trump, then certainly from local and state authorities.

Chief among those questions is this: The tweet and the photo give the appearance that those elderly, disabled residents were home alone. Who at the home was responsible for their well-being?

Thank heavens that our military and first responders, the Red Cross and such nonprofit veterans’ groups as Team Rubicon are coming to the rescue of tens of thousands of human souls perched along Harvey’s path.

They are helping to jump-start the recovery efforts, too. Tens of thousands of Texans are in desperate need of basic supplies — roofs over their heads, food and water, clothes and toiletries, and health and medical supplies.

Pony up.

Millions of visitors who come to the nation’s capital every year to bash the president and gaze upon America’s cornerstones probably do not even know it’s there — “it” referring to the national headquarters for the American Red Cross.

The organization’s building is but a spit and a holler from the White House and the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall — and the good people who work for and volunteer with the Red Cross soldier every day come Hell and high water.

Help the vets and other volunteers help Texans, Louisianans and others who dash in where folks are in need.

Remember those volunteers who come to the rescue and don’t ask whether you are a documented immigrant, or have a dog or are transgender.

Pony up.

Picture those residents and remember.

Water, fire, wind, snow or mud slide. What happened to those residents of La Vita Bella in Dickinson, Texas, could have happened anywhere in this big wide world of ours.

Pony up.

Remember, this, too: When you’re told to get out of Dodge, get out.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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