A North Carolina mother trapped in her flooded home as Tropical Storm Florence battered the state late Thursday night described the heartache of hearing her neighbors yell for help but not being able to do anything.
Annazette Riley-Cromartie, who lives in James City, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that her family decided not to evacuate because Florence had lost some of its strength and was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm.
Riley-Cromartie told Cooper around 11pm on Thursday she and her husband noticed water starting to come into their house. She said it started slowly, but the water kept rising.
Riley-Cromartie, her husband and the three kids at home were forced to seek shelter in the attic.
Eventually, Riley-Cromartie said she brought the kids to an upstairs bedroom and put them on a bunk bed so they could get some sleep. That’s when she and her husband heard some of their neighbors screaming for help.
A woman with the Civilian Crisis Response Team is seen carrying Annazette Riley-Cromartie’s seven-year-old daughter to safety
The family was rescued earlier Friday morning after being trapped in their flooded James City, North Carolina home for hours
The other two children are seen being rescued by a volunteer rescue team in James City on Friday
Annazette Riley-Cromartie (pictured left and right with her husband) said they heard neighbors screaming for help but could not do anything because of the rising waters
‘My husband kept hearing people yelling for help and he tried to go outside,’ she told Cooper.
The rising waters, however, proved too dangerous and Riley-Cromartie said her husband, who is six-feet-two-inches tall, had to come back inside because the water was above his chest.
‘It’s the worst feeling in the world to hear people yelling for help and you can’t do anything,’ she said, getting emotional.
Riley-Cromartie said she called 911, but rescuers weren’t able to get to them until early Friday morning when a volunteer rescue team from Indiana was dispatched to James City.
A photo of Amber Hersel, a member of the Civilian Crisis Response Team, went viral after she was seen carrying Riley-Cromartie’s seven-year-old Keiyana Cromartie to safety.
Hersel told Cooper that the family was fine, but a little ‘shaken up’.
Annazette Riley-Cromartie posted photos on her Facebook page of her flooded home as they waited for help
One photo showed her cars almost submerged in water as Florence battered the state with rain and heavy winds
After rescuing the children, the rescue team went back and helped Riley-Cromartie and her husband get out of the flooded home.
Hersel said she has volunteered as a rescuer in the past, but never for a hurricane.
‘It’s a little intimidating. I’ve really enjoyed getting to help where I can,’ she said. ‘At first, when you see the weather you’re just like “What in the world did I get myself into?” But then as you see the families that you’re helping, you know it’s all worth it.’
Riley-Cromartie said she is beyond thankful for the rescue team.
‘It takes a special person to leave their own home and their own family to come all this way to help us,’ she said.
According to the New York Times, more than 360 people were rescued in nearby New Bern since Thursday night. By Friday evening, an additional 140 people were in need of help.
Officials said the latest death toll, as of Saturday morning, was seven people in North Carolina. Pictured is a destroyed gas station near the coast line in North Carolina
Florence was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm but has wreaked havoc on the state. Pictured is a damaged home in Wilmington
Officials have said that seven people were killed from the massive storm. The first death attributed to Florence was in Pender County, North Carolina. A mother and an infant were also killed in Wilmington when a tree fell on their home, ABC News reports.
Another person, a 78-year-old man in Kinston, was killed when he tried to connect extension cords outside in the rain, according to Lenoir County Emergency Services Director Roger Dail.
A 77-year-old man in Kinston was also killed. Dail said the man’s body was found at his residence by relatives and it’s believed that he was blown down when he went outside to check on his hunting dogs.
Two more people were confirmed dead Saturday in Harkers Island. Officials have not released details about those deaths.