Despite warnings not to swim through the storm surge, Johnny Lauder plunged into the flooded streets of his neighbourhood and began his half-mile hike to his elderly mother’s house after calling for help during Hurricane Ian.
“It was a tough swim if you call it that, and I knew the water was coming in faster and faster,” Lauder said. “Who wouldn’t go get their mother?”
Before the storm, Lauder tried to evacuate his 84-year-old mother Karen․
“She said, ‘You should kick me out and scream,'” he told People.
As the storm-battered Naples and the streets quickly began to flood, everyone gathered in the attic.
As they escaped to higher ground, Lauder, a former police officer and rescue diver, received a call from his mother who uses a wheelchair. The water was entering her house.
“That’s when I knew I had to bounce back,” Lauder told The Washington Post. “So I jumped out the window and started wading through the water.”
“I was aware of the dangers any kind of current could put me in, I could get hit by debris, but my mum was there and I knew she didn’t have much time,” the man said. 49-year-old on local news.
As he walked to his mother’s house, he took selfies and sent them to his family to let them know he was fine.
During his journey, he came across a knee board and a life jacket which he used to propel him the four blocks to his mother’s house.
“It was like an act of God when the kneeboard was floating right in front of me,” he said. “There was nothing on the street and it just popped up, like, ‘Wow, okay, someone’s watching over me.”
After almost an hour of working against the grain, he arrived at his 84-year-old mother’s house.
When he got to her door, he heard her scream.
He glanced out the window and saw her struggling to stay afloat. The water rose to his chin.
“She’s never been so happy to see me. Lauder
recognized signs of hypothermia and placed her on a high table where he wrapped her in dry sheets.
Then the mother and son waited about three hours for the water to recede.
Once the storm surge moved far enough away, Lauder contacted one of his sons to help get Karen to safety. As Lauder and his son began to roll Karen through the water, they noticed a neighbor who needed help
Lauder’s son continued to wheel Karen around while Lauder carried the other women and dropped her off at a nearby hotel.
In the end, Lauder’s family lost two homes, but he is extremely grateful that he only lost property and not people.
“I may have lost my house, my things, but I didn’t lose my family, I didn’t lose my job. I haven’t lost hope. So we are still here,” he said. “Life is like a computer, there are two buttons: there’s a reset and a power – and thank goodness it was just a reset button that got hit and not the power. »
Karen was rushed to hospital where she received treatment for an infection she contracted from the bacteria-infested water.
There are so many stories like this that we haven’t heard of yet. So many people went to incredible lengths to save not only their loved ones, but also strangers in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.