It’s an image that has become an iconic symbol of resilience in the face of the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, showing the selflessness of rescue workers amidst the catastrophe of the storm.
The picture shows a young mother, Cathy Pham, cradling her sleeping baby as she is carried to safety through the floodwaters by Houston SWAT Team member Daryl Hudeck on Sunday.
Captured by Dallas Morning News photographer Louis DeLuca, the photo has been featured on the cover of prominent newspapers across the country as the unprecedented flooding in south Texas continues.
“I think it’s just the fact of people helping people, and you know, just not caring about who this person is, who that person is,” Pham told TODAY’s Stephanie Gosk Tuesday about why the picture has resonated.
Pham and her husband, Troy, were stranded in a loft in their southwest Houston home with their 1-year-old son, Aiden, after their first floor filled with two feet of water.
Troy enlisted the help of Houston SWAT members and civilian volunteers after kayaking down the street looking for assistance. The family was then rescued from their home by boat, and Aiden fell asleep in Pham’s arms before DeLuca captured Hudeck carrying them to safety.
“We were just so grateful because I don’t know if we hadn’t ran into them and seen them, I don’t know how long I would’ve been up there, like how long it would’ve taken for somebody to find us,” Pham said.
Aiden, who is 13 months old, peacefully slept through the whole ordeal.
“Once we got on the boat, that cool breeze and I guess the motion of the boat, he was just ‘Well hey, this is a perfect nap time for me right now,”’ Pham said.
Another photo encapsulating the heroism during the storm depicts Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Rick Johnson holding a young boy in one arm and a little girl in another as he makes his way through waist-deep water in Cypress, Texas.
Johnson had been knocking on doors to see if people needed assistance, and he told the parents that he would take the children to safety as they gathered any important items the family would need while evacuating.
The picture was captured on a cell phone by one of Johnson’s colleagues.
“You have a guy, myself who’s wearing the blue, which I take pride in,” Johnson told Gosk on TODAY. “I’m an African-American male, and the kids were of Caucasian descent, but when I went there, that’s not even a thought in your, in my mind, it’s not a thought at all.”
Johnson, a military veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is a father of four himself.
“There’s a person in need,” he said. “I have the means to help you. I’m here to help you. Let’s go and make this happen. That’s what it was.”
Despite the harrowing situation, the children can be seen smiling and remaining calm. They were taken with their parents to a rescue vehicle that transported them to a nearby shelter.
“I’m a really nice guy, plus the truck that we were riding on was awesome, so it helped out a great deal,” Johnson said. “So (the kids) are like, ‘Oh look at this, a cool deputy, a cool guy, yeah, let’s go.”’
Johnson never learned the names of the children he carried, but like many people captured in these touching photos from a storm expected to dump between 40 and 50 inches of rain, they will be forever linked.