John O'Connor

Hurricane Harvey has caused never-before-seen flood damage across southeastern Texas.

But unless you are physically there, it can hard to put your head around its impact. That is, unless you take a look at this hard-to-believe photo of assisted living residents.

This unforgettable image, shared here from Twitter, was snapped at the La Vita Bella assisted living community in Dickinson, which is about an hour’s drive south of downtown Houston.

The imagery is so stunning — residents apparently going about normal routines despite being waist-high in water — that it almost looks staged. But Dickerson city officials have confirmed its authenticity.

The photo was uploaded to Twitter by Timothy McIntosh (@DividendsMGR), who is from Tampa, FL, according to his Twitter profile. The Galveston County Daily News reports that his mother-in-law owns the community. He posted the image this past weekend, along with a plea that the residents be saved.

Fifteen residents were airlifted to safety by Sunday afternoon. For them, this story has a reasonably happy ending, at least compared with what might have been.

Others have not been as fortunate. At least 14 people have been counted among the storm’s fatalities so far, with expectations that the total will rise dramatically.

Unrelenting rain has been the real culprit. Harris County (which includes Houston) was pounded by nearly 24 inches of rain between Saturday and Monday afternoon. In all, more than 35 inches of rain fell over four days, according to the National Weather Service. To get an idea of how wet Texas is right now, that’s more than a trillion gallons of water. And more may be coming.

We can expect to hear a lot more about Hurricane Harvey’s human and economic toll in the days and weeks to come. But those numbers are likely to fade from our minds much faster than the image of these residents going about their business as if it’s just another day.

It’s often said that an image is worth a thousand words. In this case, that might be understatement in the extreme.

John O’Connor is editorial director of McKnight’s Senior Living. Email him at [email protected].

Read about Holiday Retirement and Brookdale Senior Living’s experience with Harvey here.