Hurricane Matthew wasn’t selective in the destruction it brought to the residents of Sampson County. Nearly a week after the storm swept through, residents are beginning to face the not-so-pleasant realities and the losses they have endured.
One of those is Jauteria Faison.
Saturday, as the torrential rains began to fall and the heavy winds began to blow, Faison and her 5-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son headed home to Salemburg from Clinton via Bonnetsville Road after picking up her boyfriend, Patrick Rich, from work.
Earlier in the day, Faison said she had made the trip to Clinton and road conditions had not presented any problems.
“We were almost home,” Faison noted, recalling the horror that struck her family. “We were just driving along and all of sudden, the car dropped. We could see the pavement from the road on top of the car.”
Faison, driving her Toyota Camry, said there wasn’t any standing water on the roadway at the time, and having driven across the same area twice earlier in the day, she didn’t see any dangers with the road that afternoon.
“There was so much water gushing that it just pushed us down with the water,” Faison attested.
In that instant, anxiety took over and she started trying to figure out a way to get herself, her children and her boyfriend out of the car.
“I just started to panic,” Faison stressed. “The car was rocking in the water.”
Reaching for her phone, Faison said she tried to call 911 while her boyfriend attempted to kick out the windows. Reaching for the window button, Faison said she was able to roll her power windows down and climb out of the car and get on top. As for calling for help, there wasn’t any service at the time.
“The water was just pushing us down,” she explained. “I yelled at my boyfriend to get the kids out and hand them to me.”
With the panic still in her voice, Faison said she kept telling her boyfriend to get the kids out of the sinking car. Finally, Rich was able to free the children from the safety seats and hand them out the window. Rich was able to escape the car as well.
For the next hour and a half, Faison said she and her boyfriend screamed for help, as they clung to the children. The water, quickly rising to their chests, was cold, but Rich managed to hold on to both kids and keep them above water.
“Somehow, DOT (Department of Transportation) heard our screams,” Faison said. “They called for help and several fire departments responded, along with the National Guard.”
Once rescuers arrived and began the rescue efforts, Faison said she kept yelling and telling the EMS personnel to hurry because the car was shifting.
The rescue team tied a rope to Faison’s waist and pulled her from the water, but as she was being rescued, she said she heard them say, “Don’t let her look back.”
Rich was still clinging to the two children, but with every second, that grip kept slipping.
“He just kept saying, ‘My son is slipping,’” Faison said.
At that point, Faison said she began to pray.
“I truly thought we were all going to die. If that water had gotten any higher, we would have drown.”
Faison’s children were finally handed off to rescue workers and brought on shore. When her son was taken out of the water, Faison said he was purple and shivering from the cold waters.
Minus a few bruises and scrapes, Faison, the children and Rich are fine. The kids, she said, are emotionally scared from the near-death experience, but thankfully, they are young enough she doesn’t think they will always remember the fear they were experiencing at the time.
“If I could have done anything different, I would have just gone to a friend’s house and stayed until the storm was over,” Faison said.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.