Panicked residents in southeast Texas and southern Louisiana were left waiting Tuesday night as a slow-moving Tropical Storm Harvey inched closer to making its second landfall in less than a week.
The fear of not knowing how powerful the storm and its impact would be was captured live Wednesday morning as a news anchor tried to calm a frightened 81-year-old woman live on-air.
The touching display of compassion and sympathy was one of dozens of examples of how people along the Gulf shore are banding together to aid those in need.
“I don’t want to leave,” an overwhelmed Dorothy Henley told KFDM‘s Jasmine Styles. Henley was calling into the station from her flooded Port Arthur home to find out more information about the storm’s path. “I never thought at 81 years old I would experience a flood like this.”
“I want you to breathe,” Styles repeatedly told Henley in an effort to calm her down.
“You have no idea what it’s like,” a panting Henley said. “I’ve got a beautiful home and I’ve got beautiful, beautiful furniture … I’m not ready to go.”
“I know that it’s scary and I know you want to hold on to your home,” Styles responded, reassuring her that hundreds of other residents were experiencing the same trauma. “I have a grandmother who has been in her home for ages, and it would be terrifying for her to leave.”
“But those belongings can be replaced. Ms. Dorothy, we can’t replace you.”
At one point Styles recommended the elderly woman to go into “survival mode” as forecasters expected flood waters to rise another 15 centimetres within an hour.
“Do you have anything you can float on,” Styles asked, suggesting Henley use her mattress as a makeshift raft if the waters got any higher.
Styles remained on the phone for more than seven minutes urging Henley to call 911 repeatedly until help arrived
Emergency services in that part of the state were overwhelmed, Wednesday morning, by calls from other trapped residents along with a pair of structure fires in the Port Arthur area that added to the chaos.
Henley eventually hung up, but it remained unclear if emergency personnel were able to reach her.
WATCH: Harvey floodwaters fill evacuation shelter in southeast Texas
Meanwhile, the community found itself increasingly isolated Wednesday morning as Harvey’s rains flooded most major roads out of the city and swamped a shelter where victims from areas previously hit by the storm had fled to.
Jefferson County sheriff’s Deputy Marcus McLellan said he wasn’t sure where the 100 or so evacuees at the civic centre in Port Arthur would be sent. Most were perched on bleacher seats to stay dry, their belongings left mostly on the floor under about 30 centimetres of water, he said.
“People started coming to the shelter on Monday,” McLellan said. “And now it’s just all the rainfall that’s coming in, and there’s a canal by there also that’s overflowing.”
KFDM reported that at least four people in the Beaumont, Texas area had been killed as a result of the storm.
-With files from The Associated Press.