Althea Wood has always feared dying in a flood and her worst nightmare almost came true Saturday evening. Wood, her husband and four other adults and three children in her family had to be rescued after the collapse of a railroad bed near their home on Hyacinth Road east of Carthage released a torrent of Center Creek flood waters that overwhelmed the four mobile homes where they lived.
Althea Wood has always feared dying in a flood and her worst nightmare almost came true Saturday evening.
Wood, her husband and four other adults and three children in her family had to be rescued after the collapse of a railroad bed near their home on Hyacinth Road east of Carthage released a torrent of Center Creek flood waters that overwhelmed the four mobile homes where they lived.
“I'm terrified of drowning in a flood and now I've lived through my biggest fear,” Althea Wood said. “I was drowning in a flood in my home.”
On Tuesday, the family, Althea Wood and her husband, Stephen Wood, Althea's daughter and her husband, Kandy and Nick Couch, and their daughter and son in law, Cristina and Sheldon Couch, and their children, were all working to figure out what to do next after the floods destroyed their homes and most of their vehicles and belongings.
“We're just taking things one day at a time,” Stephen Wood said. “We're hoping for the best and trying to figure out what we're going to do until we get things situated. All we can do is just be thankful, that's what Jesus says, be thankful for all things.”
Heavy rains had pummeled the area early Saturday and into Saturday morning, dumping in excess of three and a half inches of precipitation on Carthage, with more falling throughout the day.
Stephen said Althea had noticed that the family's pigs were standing in water in their pen, so he and his son in law went out to herd them onto their porch.
They weren't particularly concerned because, in the past, the elevated railroad bed had kept the water from rising too high close to their homes.
“In 2015 it flooded but it was only up to the flooring of our mobile home.” Kandy Couch said. “It didn't come into the mobile home. It was a similar storm, but the levy didn't break on the railroad.”
They got the pigs on the porch when they noticed water coming over — and under — the railroad bed near their homes.
“By the time I got inside the water started coming up fast,” Stephen Wood said. “We were in the house and it was too late to come back out. It was rushing so hard.”
As Stephen and Althea Wood struggled in their home, they saw a pickup truck float by outside their trailer.
In that truck were Nick and Kandy Couch, struggling to drive out of the maelstrom of water and debris.
“I was on the phone with 911 but the water was coming over the truck,” Kandy Couch said. “We got hung up on a tree, it pushed us in the woods, it was something I don't want to do again. I was on the phone with 911 all that time and I just knew we were going to die.”
Their flatbed Dodge truck managed to get some traction and they drove to higher ground, all the while pleading for 911 to send help.
As the Woods struggled in their home against water rising to their chest, they could also see out the windows Cristina and Sheldon Couch clinging to their young children on the roof of a mobile home that was floating away.
“I started screaming because I didn't know where my babies were, whether they were gone,” Althea Wood said. “Then he tells me the grandkids are on the roof and their trailer has broken loose and jammed between a pole and a tree. It was awful.”
Carthage Fire Chief Roger Williams said the fire department received the call and was on scene on Hyacinth Road shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday.
They could see people struggling on the roof of one trailer and they knew others were in trouble.
The Carthage Fire Department deployed its newest power boat, purchased only last month, to fight the current and rescue family members.
“I will tell you, if we had not had that particular boat, I'm not sure we would have gotten in there because of the extent of the water and how strong the flow was,” Williams said. “This is a boat with a bigger motor, more power and they were able to get in there, and it took all the power they had to get into this area and scoop them out.”
Althea Wood said they could see the boat as it approached. Firefighters rescued the family on the roof of one mobile home, then returned for Stephen and Althea.
“When I saw that boat, I started screaming thank you God, thank you God,” Althea said.
“It was really cool because we saw them get the babies off the roof,” Stephen Wood added. “We knew the babies were safe and that was an answered prayer right there. It took them quite a while to get back, it seemed like forever, to get back.”
Stephen and Althea say they don't know what they're going to do now.
They were running out of money on Tuesday so they were looking for a place to stay other than the motel.
“All four trailers were pulled off their foundations and they're a total loss,” Stephen Wood said. “They have a Christian band they play in, and all of the band equipment is destroyed. Everything in the trailers is a total loss. But we know God will provide for us because he saved our lives.”
Pages have been set up on the crowd funding site Gofundme, for Stephen and Althea Wood and Sheldon and Cristina Couch and their children.
The page for the Couch family is https://www.gofundme.com/victims-of-floodlost-everything
The page for the rest of the family and their band, Psalms Profit, is https://www.gofundme.com/flood-victims-who-lost-everything
Fire Chief Williams said the American Red Cross was expected in Carthage on Wednesday to determine who needs help and what kind of help was needed. He asked that anyone in need of help from the flooding call the fire station at 237-7100.