“We lost everything today… everything except what matters most.” 
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On Thursday morning, 17-year-old Chloe Adams woke up to water pouring into her home in Whitesburg, Kentucky, from all angles. Chloe was alone except for Sandy, the dog she's had since she was a toddler.

Torrential rains pummeled eastern Kentucky late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, resulting in catastrophic flooding in Hazard, Jackson, Garrett, Salyersville, Booneville, Whitesburg, and Perry County.

Chloe Adams Flood
Credit: Larry Adams

"There was water as far as I could see," Chloe told CNN. "I had a full-blown panic attack."

The teen's grandparents were at a home a few feet away, but they were separated from her by the furious floodwaters. With phone service limited, Chloe told CNN that she quickly realized she would need to move to survive. Despite the risks, she decided to attempt the swim to her uncle's house nearby. 

"I put Sandy in the water momentarily to see if she could swim," Chloe recalled. "But she couldn't, so I scooped her up and went back inside, wading through the waist deep water to try to locate something that she could float to put her on."

Chloe Adams Dog
Credit: Larry Adams

After some searching, Chloe placed the dog inside a plastic drawer from her closet. Putting the drawer on top of a sofa cushion, she was able to keep her afloat.

"I finally had a plan that I believed ... might work," she told CNN. "I knew the dangers of trying to swim in deep and moving water, but I felt I had no choice."

Chloe's grandparents watched as she swam through the water pushing Sandy's cushion in front of her. Eventually she reached the sliver of roof of a nearby building that had not yet been submerged. 

Chloe and Sandy sat on the roof for five hours until her cousin was able to rescue them with a kayak. She told CNN that her family watched over and talked to her from her uncle's home as she waited for help.

"My daughter is safe and whole tonight," her father Larry wrote on Facebook. "She saved her dog by putting her in a container that would float and then swam with her to a neighboring rooftop. She waited hours until she could be rescued. She is a hero. We lost everything today…everything except what matters most."  

The situation in Kentucky is dire. So far 35 people have died, while hundreds remain unaccounted for as of Monday.  Organizations fundraising for the recovery effort include: The Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky and Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

For more information and resources, Appalshop, a Whitesburg business hit hard by the flooding, is keeping a running list.