Oct 5, 2022
Johnny Lauder and his family in East Naples, Florida, lost most of their belongings to Hurricane Ian. But Lauder, 49, is grateful he could save something he couldn't replace: the life of his 84-year-old mother.
Lauder and his mother, Karen, live about a half-mile apart. He can usually walk there easily. But that journey was completely different last week after Lauder received a panicked call. His mom had decided to stay alone at home during the hurricane. She called to say water was rushing in and was up to her chest. Lauder’s mother uses a wheelchair. She needed rescuing right away.
So Lauder swam against the current in the streets’ five-foot storm surge to his mother’s house. He is a former police officer and rescue diver.
“It was a very rough swim, if you call it that, and I knew the water was coming up faster and faster,” Lauder told NBC2. “Who wouldn’t go for their mom?”
Lauder arrived to find the water up to her chin.
“If I would have been a half hour later,” Lauder said, “she wouldn’t be here.”
Karen Lauder is now in the hospital. She's being treated for infected wounds she got from the floodwaters. “I’m just so glad I’m here today,” she told NBC2.
Of the material losses he and his family suffered, the younger Lauder said: “All that can be replaced, life can’t.” For now, he’s living with his oldest son. Lauder's mom will join them once she’s out of the hospital.
Next time a hurricane comes, Johnny Lauder said, he plans to totally evacuate his family. He urged others to do the same.
Photo from Lauder family’s GoFundMe page.
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