In the midst of Hurricane Harvey, one family’s cry for help was particularly acute. It was a medical emergency.
Casey Dailey was recovering from surgery at home and on Aug. 27 needed an ambulance as soon as possible.
Floodwaters had reached the doorstep of her northeast Harris County home between Greens Bayou and Sheldon Lake.
Her husband, Wayne Dailey, frantically called 911 that afternoon. The line was busy. He dialed more than two dozen times and got through. Help was on the way, he was told, but no one showed up that day or the next.
“That’s when I went to social media,” said Darlene Zavertnik, Wayne’s mother, who lives in Montgomery County. “I went on Facebook and put together a letter.”
Friends and relatives began sharing the post. A cousin called volunteers while Wayne tried 911 one more time and asked for an air rescue. He was told that they were already on the list.
“You don’t understand. She’s dying,” Wayne Dailey recalls saying.
Feeling completely hopeless, he saw some people trolling in a boat just after noon on Aug. 29. Wayne ran out in the water to flag them down. The crew turned out to be the famous civilian volunteers from Louisiana’s Cajun country.
“They came to the house and they got her in that boat,” Zavertnik said.
The Cajun Navy transported Casey Dailey to an airboat. From there, she was loaded onto a dump truck. Confusion about emergency medical sites led to a stop on the side of the road, which is when she stopped breathing, relatives said. An ambulance finally arrived and paramedics worked on her 15 to 20 minutes.
“They got her to the hospital and they just could not …” Zavertnik said, her voice trailing off into sobbing. “We just don’t want anything like this to happen to anybody like her again. There has to be a much better system for this.”
The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences recorded 4 p.m. Aug. 29 as the time and date of Cassandra Dills-Dailey’s death at a Humble emergency room. One week later, the cause and manner remains pending. The 38-year-old is not listed among the institute’s storm-related deaths, which all involve drowning or electrocution in floodwaters.
The devoted mother had two sons, 14-year-old Luke and Ronnie, 10.
She also reached out with kind gestures, such as crocheting baby blankets for strangers who were expecting.
“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…