Amid disastrous flooding in Eastern Kentucky, an anonymous man’s good deed helped rescue a grandmother and her family trapped in a waterlogged home.
Randy Polly was driving to get gas Thursday morning when he encountered floodwaters that left him stranded in a dry patch of land in Whitesburg, Kentucky.
Hours later, he saw from afar a man rescuing an elderly woman and others who were trapped in a house as the water continued to rise.
Polly told CNN he could hear people shouting from across the flooded road: “Help me, help me.” Polly called 911, but emergency services were overwhelmed and unresponsive to her calls, he said.
At around 9 a.m. he saw someone he described as a “hero” swim up to the house and start knocking on a door and window.
A series of dramatic videos taken by Polly and shared with CNN show the rescue. Polly said it took around 30 minutes from start to finish as the man entered the house through the window and helped each of the three family members leave safely.
Missy Crovetti, who is based in Green Oaks, Ill., told CNN the rescued family consisted of her grandmother Mae Amburgey, her uncle Larry Amburgey and her brother Gregory Amburgey. They are safe and her grandmother and uncle are recovering in hospital, she said.
Crovetti said his uncle, who is 70, was put on a ventilator – likely due to water inhalation – and taken off later that day. Her grandmother was being treated with antibiotics after sustaining a laceration in her leg, Crovetti said, and on Sunday was diagnosed with pneumonia. “We are hopeful but also terrified because of his age,” she said.
Crovetti’s brother shared photos that captured the flooding inside the house as the three waited to be rescued. In one of the photos, you can see Mae, 98, sitting on her bed, which is almost submerged in water.
Crovetti said she doesn’t know the name of the man who saved her family. Polly also said he did not know the man’s name.
Crovetti has set up a verified GoFundMe campaign to help support his grandmother and other family members as they recover from the devastating floods.
The floods had claimed the lives of at least 26 people by Sunday morning. The National Weather Service has put in place a flood watch at least Monday morning for parts of southern and eastern Kentucky. There is a level 3 in 4 moderate risk of excessive precipitation on Sunday in southeastern Kentucky, according to the Weather Prediction Center.
Heavy rains and flooding began Wednesday night, sweeping some homes off their foundations and forcing residents to seek higher ground. Governor Andy Beshear said he expects the death toll to rise as search teams enter areas that are currently inaccessible.