Amid disastrous flooding in eastern Kentucky, one anonymous man’s good deed helped rescue a grandmother and her family trapped inside a water-filled home.
Randy Polly was driving to get gas on Thursday morning when he encountered floodwaters that left him stranded on a patch of dry land in Whitesburg, Kentucky.
A few hours later, he watched from a distance as a man saved an elderly woman and others who were trapped in a house as the water kept rising.
Polly told CNN he could hear people yelling across the flooded road, “Get me help, get help.” Polly called 911, but emergency services were overwhelmed and unresponsive to his calls, he said.
At around 9 a.m., he witnessed someone he described as a “hero” swim over to the house and start banging on a door and window.
A series of dramatic videos taken by Polly and shared with CNN show the rescue. Polly said it took about 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, Illinois, told CNN that the family rescued consisted of her grandmother Mae Amburgey, uncle Larry Amburgey and her brother Gregory Amburgey. They are safe and her grandmother and uncle are recovering in the hospital, she said.
Crovetti said her uncle, who is in his 70s, had been put on a ventilator – likely due to water inhalation – and taken off later in the day. Her grandmother was being treated with antibiotics after suffering a laceration on her leg, Crovetti said, and as of Sunday had been diagnosed with pneumonia. “We’re hopeful but also terrified because of her age,” she said.
Crovetti’s brother shared pictures that captured the flooding inside the house as the three waited to be rescued. In one of the pictures, you can see 98-year-old Mae sitting on her bed, which is nearly submerged in water.
Crovetti said she does not know the name of the man who rescued her family. Polly also said he does not know the man’s name.
Crovetti set up a verified GoFundMe campaign to help support her grandmother and other family members as they recover from the devastating floods.
The flooding had claimed the lives of at least 26 people as of Sunday morning. The National Weather Service put a flood watch in effect through at least Monday morning for parts of southern and eastern Kentucky. There is a Level 3 of 4 moderate risk for excessive rainfall on Sunday across southeastern Kentucky, according to the Weather Prediction Center.
The heavy rains and flooding began overnight on Wednesday, sweeping some homes from their foundations and forcing residents to search for higher ground. Gov. Andy Beshear has said that he expects the death toll to rise as search crews enter areas that are currently inaccessible.