Legally Blind Man Rescues His Mom from NYC Basement During Ida Flooding

More than two weeks had passed since Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc to the United States, devastating northeast coast with massive flooding, damaged properties, and deaths.

As New Jersey, New York, Louisiana, and other states still reel from the aftermath of the destructive storm, cleaning up and recovering from the squabble, accounts of heroism neutralize stories of devastation.

In Queens, New York, 47-year-old Danette Rivera said her 29-year-old, legally blind son saved her from drowning. She could not contain herself lauding her son’s deed during media interviews and in her Facebook account. In one post, she said, “This is my story. It could have went (gone) differently if I had not given birth (to) my son.” Justin, Danette’s hero, “literally saved my life.” 

Dirty floodwaters almost drowned her

The situation was bizarre and horrible. On September 1, Danette rushed to the basement of her Woodside apartment upon hearing her tenant say floodwaters had surged in. In a matter of seconds, the place that was her home for 14 years was already filled up with filthy water up to the ceiling there was no time for Danette and the tenant to go back upstairs. To save her tenant, Danette pushed her outside through the narrow basement window, counterflowing the floodwater. When it was Danette’s turn, she couldn’t go out anymore due to the force of rushing water pushing her back. It was unimaginable how she screamed hard and loud while gasping for breath and with the floodwater entering her mouth.   

“Every time I came back down to touch the ground, the water literally go above my head. I was covered with feces; I was covered with dirty water and I really thought I was gonna drown.

I said, Justin, I’m gonna drown. I’m drowning… as loud as I can as if it were my last breath,” she recounted.

Justin is legally blind, which means a field of vision of less than 20 degrees, but he heard his  mother scream for help. Still stunned how things happened, Danette said, “There was no way for me to call him, there was no way for me to contact him, so…for him to come precisely at that moment, was just amazing grace,” she said.

Justin said he was taken aback by how the yard had turned into deep water. With calm realization, he immediately acted on what needed to be done — rescue his mother. He grabbed his mother’s hand and pulled her out through the basement window. Danette’s bruises in her arms and stomach showed how she jammed herself to pass through the narrow passage.  

According to New York Times, as of September 8, Hurricane Ida’s death toll was 43 within the U.S. The number of fatalities is expected to rise in the days to come as the hard-hit states Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Pittsburgh send in their reports.

An article from New York Daily News reported that 11 of the 13 Hurricane Ida deaths in New York died from drowning in the basement apartments. Aside from the worse impact of the storm, the issues on the city’s sewage system, the soundness of basement apartments as a residence, and the proliferation of illegal basement apartments have been put in the spotlight.

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