A desperate Texas woman ended up receiving help from a stranger in Canada after she tried to call for emergency services amid the state’s flooding catastrophe on Wednesday.
The woman, from Arlington, Texas, was trying to reach emergency services in the flood-stricken city of Beaumont, Texas, seeking help for a daughter and grandchildren who are caught up in the disaster.
She reached someone from Beaumont – but in Alberta, not in Texas.
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Shiva Shunmugam, the communications coordinator with the Town of Beaumont, about 30 kilometres south of Edmonton, noticed a “ping” on the municipality’s fire hall page – “a request by a citizen,” he said.
“I see that this person is mentioning a neighbourhood and something about flooding.”
He said the message described how entire homes were underwater and he realized the call was likely not from Beaumont, Alta., but rather Beaumont, Texas.
“I contacted her, taking it as a distress call because that might have been the only communication tool that she had available,” Shunmugam said.
He then contacted Beaumont, Texas fire officials on her behalf.
The official he spoke with gave him the phone number for the woman’s daughter and Shunmugam called her by phone.
According to him, she said they had no food, they had unplugged all their appliances and they were having sanitation issues.
READ MORE: Harvey leaves Houston paralyzed with no relief in sight
“She was really happy to see we made more contact to her than the emergency services on field in Texas,” he said. “Which I’m sure is the capacity issues with the calamity that they are facing right now and I’m sure the Beaumont fire services in Texas is doing the best that they can.”
Shunmugam said he has continued to contact emergency services in Texas on the Beaumont woman’s behalf.
“We take communication seriously,” he said. “For us… it’s not an 8 to 5 job, and in situations like this, we want to provide them assistance and we want to provide them moral support as well.
“I definitely want to know… that they’re safe.”
Shunmugam said he wanted to keep helping even after he realized the woman was in Texas because “it’s the Canadian way.”
As of later Tuesday night, Texas officials and family reported that at least 18 deaths had been linked to Harvey and that more than 13,000 people had been rescued in Houston and surrounding parts of southeast Texas.
-With a file from The Canadian Press
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