What lengths would you go to protect your children? This Kentucky mother is recalling the horrific moment she had to ask herself that same question. When catastrophic flooding ravaged parts of eastern Kentucky earlier last month, Jessica Willett, a Kentucky native, and mother of two, had to act fast if she was going to keep herself and her children alive.
“I knew things were bad as soon as I opened the door,” Willett said, recalling the harrowing moment she knew the flooding was life-threatening. A video from Willett taken during the solemn night showed the brown floodwaters rushing around her porch like river rapids.
After the events unfolded, she opened up about the terrifying night the devastating floods destroyed her home.”We were inside the house the whole time,” Willett said. “It swept us off the foundations, swept us about 100 feet down the holler.”
She continued: “I was hoping and praying that the house wouldn’t rip apart, but you could hear it popping and cracking. We were lucky that we got stuck between a tree stump and the hillside. That’s the only thing that kept us from being ripped apart.”
As she saw the raging floodwaters disrupt houses from their foundations, Willett knew she wouldn’t be able to walk through it with her children.
Kentucky mom gets resourceful at the eleventh hour
As a way to keep close to her children, Willett realized she had to get creative. “I grabbed three bathrobe ties, and that wasn’t long enough,” she said. “I thought of the next best thing to a rope, which was a vacuum cord. So, I cut it in half and tied us together.”
Using the vacuum cord to tie herself to her children was not only a way to keep them alive. In addition, if she were to die, she also hoped this would ensure that her family’s remains would be found together.
When it was all said and done, her home was sadly one of many destroyed by historic flooding in eastern Kentucky last month.
In less than one week, the state saw seven to ten inches of rainfall in parts of the region. Most of the rain came in just a few hours in one day. Willet’s hometown of Jackson saw nearly eight inches of rainfall during the flooding. To date, 37 people have been pronounced dead.
“I’m worried about how many more people we’ll find and how long it’s going to take to find some people who are out there,” Governor Andy Beshear said.
After the flooding, scorching temperatures blanketed the region, rising into the mid-80s to 90 degrees. Paired with the humidity, temperatures in some areas felt hotter than 100 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Many demolished homes can still not power air conditioning units and provide people with a respite from this heat. In addition, many are still without electricity.