By: Steve Olson, American Red Cross
Rescued only to be thrown in to the flood waters when her rescuers capsized the boat in the swift current and struck a tree.
Rescheka awoke about midnight Saturday evening to absolute quiet. Thinking that the worst was over and that hurricane Matthew had moved on, she opened her front door only to find floodwaters lapping at her top step. After several days without power, her phone was close to dead. Realizing the predicament she was in, she called 911 hoping that help would be sent. She was told that rescue teams had gone though her area and was asked how she missed the boat. “I was asleep on my living room couch and didn’t hear anything,” she replied and again pleaded for help. The dispatcher suggested she call the fire department, but Rescheka told her that her phone was almost dead and asked that the dispatcher call the fire department for her.
Feeling that she was one her own, she returned to her couch and a time of prayer. A sense of peace came over her and she again fall asleep. Rescheka awoke about 2:00 a.m. and went to her door once more, waving her flashlight into the darkness. Hope rose within her when she saw a light flicker in the distance. As she continued to wave her flashlight, the returning light came closer and closer. Finally the two firefighters told her to jump into the boat. As they worked their way to shore, the boat caught a tree and quickly filled with water. Rescheka and the two firefighters suddenly found themselves in the swiftly moving water. Rescheka grabbed the branch of a tree as the current tugged at her. As the men got oriented, one of the firefighters encouraged her to trust him to swim her to safety. With fear in her heart, Rescheka let go of the branch and put her trust into her rescuer. A few hours later she was safe and drying off in a Red Cross shelter.
|Rescheka and "Mama" Lois share a special moment.|
Over the next few days, Rescheka met and became very fond of a Red Cross volunteer by the name of Lois, coming to refer to her as “mama.” Mama Lois became a source of help and encouragement, often, according to Rescheka, going way beyond her expectations to provide help and alleviate her fears of the future uncertainty. Lois was not the only one of the Red Cross volunteers that have helped her over and over again. She couldn’t say enough about all the volunteer Red Cross volunteers at the Marion County National Guard Armory which was turned into a shelter. “Everyone has done so much,” she repeated several times as we talked. “I will never forget all the Red Cross has done for me.”