Three men from St. Tammany Parish had just arrived in Houston when they spotted an elderly woman face-down in the floodwaters brought by Tropical Storm Harvey, a medical patient's white band around her wrist.

Joshua Lincoln said he and fellow "Cajun Navy" members Ricky Berrigan and Donnie Davenport were able to pull the woman, 73-year-old Wilma Ellis, into their boat and get her breathing again in relatively short order. 

"It was just being in the right place at the right time," Lincoln said in a brief phone interview. 

Lincoln, of Madisonville, said he met up with Berrigan, of Lacombe, and Davenport, of Pearl River, at a gas station Sunday night. They drove through the night to get to Texas, navigating 18 inches of standing water in some spots, Lincoln said.

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They had the boat running before daybreak Monday. They were in northeast Houston about 8 a.m. when they approached what they initially thought was a trash bag, but quickly realized was a woman in trouble. 

The current was so strong they almost lost their boat, but they were able to get Ellis aboard and start chest compressions, Lincoln said.

Once they got Ellis breathing again and out of harm's way, they posted images on Facebook, hoping to catch the attention of any family members. Eventually they got a hold of the woman's grandson, Jerele Ellis. 

After Lincoln posted some images on Facebook, a Baton Rouge-area computer security specialist named James Smith reached out to Houston woman Katrenna Ellis and asked her if she was related to Wilma Ellis. 

It turned out that Katrenna Ellis' husband, Jerele, was her grandson. Jerele Ellis was told that his grandmother was safe at a high school shelter, and the family began arranging to pick her up.

In a brief interview Monday, he called his grandmother's rescuers "a godsend." 

Ellis' relatives and Smith said the saga illustrates the kinship that southeast Louisiana shares in times of disaster with Houston, where tens of thousands of New Orleanians displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 sought refuge.

Also, Katrenna Ellis, a military veteran, was once stationed at the naval base in Belle Chasse, just outside New Orleans.

Lincoln said Wilma Ellis was one of "thousands and thousands" of people in Houston who needed help in the wake of Harvey, which arrived in Texas as a Category 4 hurricane late Friday night. He said the level of floodwaters was continuing to rise Monday.

On the positive side, Lincoln said he had lost count of the number of people manning airboats, Jet Skis and various other vessels in the floodwaters, seeking to rescue anyone in need. 

Before excusing himself to return to the task at hand, Lincoln asked people to donate anything they can to relief efforts following Harvey.​

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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