Florida Woman Braves Hurricane Ian's Floodwaters To Check On Desperate Stranger's Elderly Mother

“People are amazing.”

Shirley Affolter Hurricane Ian
Photo: Cheynne Prevatt

Christine Bomlitz watched in horror from thousands of miles away as Hurricane Ian battered southwest Florida Wednesday. She'd lost contact with her 84-year-old mother, Shirley Affolter, shortly after Ian made landfall as a deadly Category 4 storm, cutting service to the landline at her Englewood home.

Hours passed without a word and Bomlitz was becoming increasingly concerned. Desperate, she turned to Facebook for help. Bomlitz posted on countless pages asking if anyone could check on her elderly mother who relies on a walker to get around.

There was still no word from her mom when she woke up on Thursday morning.

More hours passed before a complete stranger, 26-year-old Cheynne Prevatt, got wind of Bomlitz's plight. A resident of Englewood herself, her family's home sustained significant damage in the storm. But that didn't stop her from wading into chest-high floodwaters to search for Affolter.

Prevatt, who works for a roofing company in nearby Port Charlotte, told the Associated Press that she felt immediate relief when she walked through the door and found Affolter alive and safe.

"I didn't know who she was, but she was really kind of surprised to see me," she recalled.

Shirley Affolter hurricane ian
Cheynne Prevatt

With Prevatt's phone, mother and daughter were finally able to speak. She returned that evening to help a man with a paddle board take Affolter to dry ground.

"I'm thankful for this stranger, a total stranger," Bomlitz told AP. "People are amazing."

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