Man saves his daughters during Halloween floods


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist J.P. HARRINGTON

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on November 5, 2013 at 11:25 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 11:40 PM

AUSTIN -- The pitter patter of rain drops added insult to injury for families in the Dove Springs neighborhood Tuesday night. More water came, falling onto homes that are still drying out from last week's flood.

Halloween started as a normal day for Samuel Coleman.

"I took my girlfriend to work at 5 a.m., pulled into the driveway about 5:20 a.m.," said Coleman. 

About 25 minutes later water from Onion Creek spilled in.

"Water started coming in the house, and it was probably about a little less than knee deep," he recalled. "And you know we have a dog, and we ended up putting boots on and letting the dog out the kennel, thinking that the rain probably would stop."

But the water kept rising. The dog was trapped outside. Inside Coleman was trying to save his three daughters, ages 10, 11 and 14.

"I set the girls on the table. They sat on the table because I have a high table," he said. "All of a sudden the table started floating."

It was time for Plan B.

"I took the curtains down and tied each one of them up and tied them together. I said 'If we go, I'll have hold of y'all,'" Coleman said. "I kept calling 911 and they were so busy, and they said, 'We'll get to you, we'll get to you.'"

That's when the back door broke, pushing debris into the house and knocking over Coleman's daughters.

"The water was up here," said Coleman pointing to his neck. "But it was like white water rapids." 

"We have a pole right there and both of them went around the pole and stayed on the pole crying, 'We're stuck, we're stuck!'" he added.

"It was scary and it was cold," said Coleman's 11-year-old daughter Monica.

"I was scared. I thought we were stuck there and we were going to drown for a while, but you know, my dad helped us out," added Coleman's 14-year-old daughter Mary Lopez.

Trying to build a new life isn't easy.

"I'm still in the hole, still with bills. You know I have nothing," said Coleman. 

Coleman and his family are locked out of their home. Nearly all of their belongings are gone. His car was totaled and the rental he's using has to be back in a few days. Adding to the stress, Coleman says the owner of the house is elderly and unlikely to rebuild. He and his daughters are separated, staying with friends and family.

Still he is grateful they are all okay and counts himself lucky to have a job. But after saving their lives, all he wants is to give his girls a home.

"I would have drowned before them. I'd do anything for them," said Coleman.

Coleman's family is one of a dozen listed in "urgent need" by the Austin Disaster Relief Network, a group made up of local churches. Volunteers for the organization say resources are stretched thin in Onion Creek where more than 200 flood victims need help.

Go here to learn more about how you can help flood victims.