An Ohio couple took refuge in their basement on Monday during a Tornado warning, when their foundation suddenly collapsed and water filled the room up to the rafters.
Michael and Michaelann Hammonds told newsnet5.com that the water rose so quickly there was no time to escape. They floated with their heads in a 6-inch space just below the joists on the ceiling, when they started to smell natural gas.
"We were smelling gas and I thought, 'Well, I didn't drown. Now I'm going to suffocate', so I threw up a jackpot prayer and God answered," said Michael.
The couple’s three children hadn’t made it into the basement before the collapse and rushed to alert the neighbors. Don Molesky grabbed his circular saw and another neighbor brought an ax and together they tore up the floor of the Hammond’s home looking for them.
"They had their heads up in the rafters because they were floating in the water and they were clear up in the rafters, so I told them to get back while we were cutting," Molesky said.
The rescued Michaelann before firefighters arrived and pulled Michael out of another hole.
“It was the single scariest moment of my life,” Michael said. “I just kept praying. I wasn’t ready to die and not like that.”
“There’s definitely going to be some post-traumatic stress after this for [me and Michaelann] as well as the kids,” he added. “They witnessed themselves almost becoming orphans. You don’t just get over that.”
Michael said the city isn’t sure the home is repairable.
“My kids have parents today. Stuff can be replaced,” he said.
"I love my neighbors," he added. "They're really good people. They said our lives."
Molesky said he’s no hero.
"You do what you got to do when something like this happens. You just got to think on your feet," Molesky said.
Everything is gone, except for the family’s cat. They thought the feline died in the flood, but later found her alive inside the home.
The couple’s church is pulling together to help them.
“The neighbors took care of us until the fire department arrived,” Michaelann told Ohio.com. “And our pastor has already contacted us, as well as several other people we go to church with. We’re lucky to have our lives and this support.”