Neighbors banded together during a California blizzard to help a 79-year-old man reach his wife who was miles away at a nursing home with respiratory problems.

  • A California man asked for help on Facebook to clear his driveway and get to his sick wife.
  • Robert Rice had been trapped at home due to the rare California snowstorm, The New York Times.
  • He reminded the newspaper of how neighbors helped him pave a path outside his driveway so he could be by her side.

Neighbors in a California community banded together to help a 79-year-old man reach his wife, who was in a nursing home nearly 30 miles away with a medical emergency, during recent snowstorms that hit the state and caught the residents.

Robert Rice, 79, said The New York Times that he thought he could stay home and weather the storm, but when notified that his wife, Ann Rice, 81, was struggling to breathe in their nursing home, he said he had no choice but to go to her side.

California has been experiencing various rare winter storms, that they have created dangerous conditions for many residents across the state.

Doctors thought that Ann, who had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure, might die because carbon dioxide was building up in her lungs, the Times reported.

Robert, who had been trying to keep at least part of his driveway clear throughout the storm, was unable to clear his driveway as more snow continued to fall in late February, he told the newspaper.

He spent hours in the freezing cold of the San Bernardino region trying, but was only able to pave a small road, he told the Times. He called him one day, but then officials at Ann’s nursing home called to inform him that some of the carbon dioxide had been removed from his wife’s lungs.

That bought him a little more time to get to his wife, but it wouldn’t be very successful in clearing the way in the days to come.

“I looked outside and said, ‘There’s no way it’s going to come out,'” Robert told the Times.

He would call the nursing home every day to see how his wife of 54 years was doing before one day he received a call that his hemoglobin levels were falling due to internal bleeding, the Times reported. And despite receiving blood transfusions every other day, doctors recommended stopping the procedure, saying she most likely only had a few weeks left.

“I sat there and thought, ‘My God, she’s going to die before I get there,'” Robert told the Times.

Desperate and crying, he told the newspaper that he sought help on Facebook.

“I never thought I’d have to do this. Here goes,” Robert posted to a local Facebook group. “My wife Ann is in a skilled nursing facility down the hill. She doesn’t have much time to leave. I can’t even come down to say goodbye. Is there someone who can help me with my driveway? It’s almost halfway down, it needs to be wider.” so I can back my small car. I’m a Vietnam Army Veteran and retired LEO. It’s too embarrassing for me to even ask for help. I’m sorry.”

People started calling him to help.

Firefighters stopped for a wellness check, neighbors showed up with shovels and others offered to give him a ride or pay for a hotel near his wife.

Eventually, a neighbor came down with a tractor with a front-loading bucket to pave his driveway, and by March 9, he was finally able to get in his car and drive to see his wife and hold her hand.

“I was hoping people wouldn’t think it sounded cheesy,” he told the Times of his plea for help. “There were other people who probably needed the help more than I did.”

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