As Hurricane Harvey flooded her Houston home, Casey Dailey needed medical attention — fast.
But after dozens of 911 calls, and two days of waiting, emergency services never came. And when civilian volunteers finally reached Dailey, a 38-year-old mother of two, she died on the way to the hospital, according to the Houston Chronicle.
It started on Aug. 27, when Dailey, who was recovering from a surgery at home, needed an ambulance.
Dailey, who had Cushing’s disease, underwent surgery on Aug. 23 and was sent home the following day; soon after, she started vomiting blood and developed a fever, according to WBALTV.
Floodwaters were already on her doorstep. So her husband, Wayne Dailey, called 911.
At first, the line was busy, but he kept calling — over two dozen more times. When he finally got through, he was told that someone would arrive soon.
They didn’t show up that day. Or the next.
In an act of desperation, Wayne’s mother, Darlene Zavertnik, told the Chronicle she “went on Facebook and put together a letter.”
As people shared the post, Wayne once again called 911, urging them to send over an air rescue.
The response? He’s currently on a waiting list with other people in the area who required medical attention.
“You don’t understand,” he recalled saying. “She’s dying.”
Finally, on Aug. 29 at noon, Wayne saw a boat cruising through the floodwaters. He waved down the boat, which was holding civilian volunteers from Louisiana’s Cajun country, and informed them of the dire situation.
The Cajun Navy picked Casey up, taking her to an airboat, which then loaded her onto a dump truck. But the truck stopped on the side of a road due to confusion over emergency medical sites.
That is when Casey stopped breathing. When an ambulance arrived at last, paramedics worked on her for around 15 minutes.
She eventually was pronounced dead that day at 4 p.m. in an emergency room in Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, according to the Chronicle.
It was a death that deeply affected Darlene Zavertnik, who glowingly talked of Casey.
“She was probably one of the sweetest, most loving people you’d know,” Zavertnik said. “She was just always wanting to do what she could to help people, make them happy and make them feel good. She was very special.”
The death toll from Hurricane Harvey has climbed to at least 60, according to ABC News. The cause and manner of Casey’s death is still unknown, according to the Chronicle, but she is not currently listed among those with storm-related deaths.
Darlene created a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral and medical costs. So far, it has raised over $11,000 of the $25,000 goal.
But moving forward, Darlene hopes deaths like this can be prevented in future natural disasters with improved emergency services.
“There has just got to be a system – some way to prioritize,” she said. “There’s just got to be a better way to get help to people in emergencies when it’s really life and death.”