His brother and mother were trapped inside.
One New Jersey man narrowly avoided joining Hurricane Ida’s death toll, a hair-raising video shows.
Security camera from inside his home show him wading through ankle-deep water in his basement, probably thinking the day couldn’t get any worse — when it does.
Just seconds after walking past, the entire basement wall suddenly collapses, sending torrents of water gushing in and smashing furniture against the far wall.
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“Thank god he made it to the stairs because the wall caved in and the water came in and would have crushed him,” his mother Janice Valle told NBC New York.
But while her older son managed to escape just in time, both she and her younger son were trapped inside the basement — at opposite ends
Recounting the harrowing ordeal, Janice said the family had all been trying to empty the basement of water when the wall collapsed; she said the younger brother believed he wouldn’t make it out alive.
“My son called his father to say goodbye to him, he thought he was going to die,” she said.
Hanging on between two supports, he managed to punch a tile out of the ceiling to create an air pocket to breathe as the flood water rose above him.
“All he knows is he was in between two beams so he’s breathing, he lost his sense of where he was,” his dad Marlon said.
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The father and older brother worked quickly to punch out a window using an umbrella, and managed to drag him out to safety.
Meanwhile, at the far end of the basement, the mother was still trapped, clinging to the boiler with just four inches of airspace to spare.
“Janice: you have to come here and open the window so I can pull you out,” she remembers hearing her husband call.
“And I said, ‘can you swim towards me?'” he added — in the knowledge his wife didn’t know how to swim.
Amazingly, all four family members escaped unscathed.
“We’re definitely going to live differently, enjoying everything. Everyday is precious,” Janice said, adding she would also now definitely learn to swim.
As many as 60 people are known to have lost their lives amid the hurricane, with damage estimates now approaching $100billion.
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