HOUSTON – Elsamar Ibarra was a nursing student during Hurricane Harvey. She saw images of flooding and people pouring into shelters on Channel 2 News. Even though her own home had taken on water, she says she didn't hesitate to jump into action to help.
"It's my passion. I have something that I want to do, to be the best for the people, to help them when they need help, and I'm here to serve for them," Ibarra said.
Ibarra said she will never forget how the storm left thousands stranded, thousands homeless and almost 100 people dead. Ibarra refused to sit by and watch her city go down without a fight.
She rushed to the George R. Brown Convention Center, which acted as a shelter, in floodwaters, where she gave countless hours of her time. She helped bandage wounds, took vital signs and gave out medications.
"It was very surprising to see what was there. It was a lot of people, a lot of people so it was surprising to see how they were struggling at the time ... kids, babies, it was my heart breaking," Ibarra said.
Ibarra, whose home was flooded during this time, also helped an elderly man who was having trouble breathing get out of his flooded home to safety.
"That was by my house, I heard someone was asking for help, so I went and I saw the man and his wife they were standing by the door of the house. so I did everything I could to (a) take them to safer place. We had to walk like five blocks away from the house to take them to where the boat was. It was very difficult for him, because he couldn't walk as fast as I wanted us to walk because he couldn't breathe," Ibarra said.
Ibarra was recognized by the Texas Nursing Association.
One of her professors at the University of St. Thomas Peavy School of Nursing said she was not surprised one bit. Ibarra has been a standout since day one.
"It was amazing. They came back and it was unanimous. Everyone said you know, we've got these students, but this student is at the top of my list and that is Elsamar," said Professor Lucindra Campbell-Law.
"We are able to make positive changes in people's lives, and that is something that is very special to me," Ibarra said.
Ibarra said she is following in the footsteps of her mother, who was a nurse in Mexico. She is no longer a nursing student. She has since graduated with a nursing degree.
She is now using it to help as many people as possible, calling it her passion, vowing to jump into action just like she did during Hurricane Harvey. For this, we name Elsamar Ibarra one of our Hurricane Harvey Heroes.