The fallout from Hurricane Harvey continues as rescues go on, people seek refuse and shelter and the death toll climbs up and up. The news has been infiltrated this week with regular images of heroic rescues and unprecedented flood levels throughout Texas and surrounding areas.
One of the most harrowing stories combines tragedy and heroism in a way that seems to perfectly represent our most recent natural disaster. It is the story of Colette Sulcer and her 3-year-old daughter.
Ms. Sulcer, 41, was driving near Beaumont, Texas on Tuesday when her car stalled. She exited the car with her 3-year-old, Jordyn Grace, in tow and they were soon swept away by rushing floodwaters. Witnesses saw the waters from a nearby drainage canal overtake the pair and drag them away.
Beaumont Police Department Officer Carol Riley told People Magazine that “they were in the water for quite some time. When the baby was found the baby was clinging to her [mother]. The mother did the best she could to keep her child up over the water.”
Sometime later, two Beaumont officers along with two Fire Rescue divers who were scouring the area in a boat spotted a pink backpack in the water. When they approached, they found the 3-year-old clinging to Sulcer’s dead body.
“First responders got to the mother and child just before they went under a trestle,” according to Beaumont Police Department’s official statement. “Water was up to the trestle and first responders would not have been able to save the child if they had floated under it.”
Responders reportedly attempted to resuscitate Sulcer but she never regained consciousness. They credit Sulcer with saving her daughter’s life. She “absolutely saved the child’s life,” a spokesperson said. “The baby also had a backpack that was helping he float on her back and she was holding on to her mom.”
Later at the hospital, the little girl told a relative that “mama was saying her prayers.”
The child is expected to make a full recovery and was set to be released from the hospital Wednesday; she was reportedly doing “very well” and was “chatty.”
“Everybody at the hospital and the officers just fell in love with her,” Riley told People.
A GoFundMe page was set up for Jordyn with a goal of $100,000. It had reportedly reached that goal within less than 12 hours. After 13 hours it was already up to $114,395 contributed by 3,394 people.
Jordyn’s relative said the little girl told her that she and her mother “were in the yucky water for quite a while,” before they were spotted by rescuers. “It’s a tragedy that her mama died, but it’s a miracle that Jordyn survived.”
Film producer and businessman as well as social activist Michael Skolnik set up a crowdfunding page for Jordyn to “support this little girl’s future” after reading about her story in the New York Times.
So far, Harvey has released at least 50 inches of rainfall in some areas of Texas and caused record-breaking flood levels. It is estimated that at least 37 people have lost their lives in the storm so far. Some estimates place the number of displaced people at 30,000.