Houston residents Drs. Greg and Andrea Smith have barely been in that city for a month. They’re both doctors, and they moved to Houston in late July for training at the Houston Medical Center. By the end of August they watched flood waters rise outside their apartment and realized they had no idea what to do in a hurricane. On top of all that, Andrea was extremely pregnant and due to give birth at any moment.
If you have a 40-week pregnant woman in the middle of a hurricane, she’s definitely going to go into labor at the worst moment possible. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened.
Andrea had been having contractions for a week. Saturday night, they decided to drive to the hospital the next morning. It was early to go to the hospital, but they knew the weather was coming. They wanted to make sure to get to the hospital before the roads became impassable.
Sunday morning they woke up ready to go to the hospital, and it was already too late.
“I expected there would be five or six inches that I could drive through,” Greg told PEOPLE. “I woke up to two or three feet.”
They couldn’t leave the house, so of course Andrea’s contractions started getting serious. 911 and the Coast Guard were both overwhelmed, and the Smiths couldn’t get an answer from either number.
They started making plans for a last-minute, totally unprepared home birth.
The Smiths are both doctors, but neither was an OBGYN, and actually neither of them had any medical supplies in the house. Fortunately, their building is very close to the Houston Medical Center, so it is full of people who worked there. Many of the Smiths’ neighbors were doctors, nurses, and EMTs, and they started bringing over medical supplies from their houses. Unfortunately none of them was an OBGYN, so the Smiths got an OBGYN friend from another city on Skype to talk them through the birth.
We live in a pretty wild world where you can just Skype an OBGYN to talk you through a home birth. Thank God the Internet exists.
They still couldn’t get through to emergency services. But this sort of emergency really does take a village to solve. One of their neighbors knew someone whose father lived next to a fire department, and that father–a complete stranger–walked out into the hurricane to tell the fire department that a pregnant lady having a baby was trapped in her house by the flood.
Nobody in the “birthing suite” knew about the attempt to contact the fire department, though. The person who put out the call wasn’t sure if it would actually work.
But then, just as everyone steeled themselves to deliver a baby via Skype, the cavalry arrived! A giant, repurposed garbage truck made its way slowly up the street. The water was almost entirely over its wheels, but it could still move.
Greg Smith ran out to try and flag it down for help, but the truck stopped right in front of his house. It was the fire department coming to get them!
Firefighters arrived with a garbage truck for a rescue.
The only problem was actually getting Andrea into the truck. She was in real labor at that point, and the water was high and fast. Her neighbors formed a human chain to help her get from the building into the rescue truck. One of the nurses who lived in the building caught the dramatic rescue on video.
They used a human chain to get her safely to the truck!! (Video shot by my roommate) Happy thoughts & prayers to the new parents! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/nlEaa9J8E4
— Callie Hatcher (@calliecalliejo) August 27, 2017
The Smiths made it to the hospital in time to deliver safely, and it was really good that they were able to get there. Their baby girl had a medical issue and needed to go to the NICU after delivery. A home birth during a hurricane would have been very dangerous for her.
The Smiths got really lucky, mostly thanks to their resourceful neighbors and firefighters all managing to work together to rescue them.
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(Image: iStockPhoto / Welcomia)