Shakia Garrett, 33, phoned her mum as she struggled to save Jose Torres, 71, his partner Rosa Espinal, 72, and their 38-year-old son Jose from the storm which hit New Jersey Wednesday
A Storm Ida victim who died heroically trying to save her neighbours made a heart-breaking final call to her mum as she grappled with rising floodwaters.
Shakia Garrett, 33, phoned her mum as she struggled to save Jose Torres, 71, his partner Rosa Espinal, 72, and their 38-year-old son Jose from the storm which battered New Jersey on Wednesday.
Tragically, despite her efforts all four died in the flooding, and they were among 27 people killed in the state as a result of the floods.
Dozens of people have so far died across the US in the deluge which first struck as a powerful hurricane in Louisiana over a week ago.
Ferocious winds of up to 150 miles per hour have battered the area and New York and New Jersey have seen torrential rain causing intense flooding.
In an interview Shakia’s mum Sharon revealed that her daughter made one final, heart-breaking call to her as the apartment complex was overwhelmed with the torrent.
She told NJ.com : “That day she called me and told me, ‘I can’t swim, mommy’.
“She was crying. We just couldn’t get to her.”
Shakia had returned home but rushed back to the apartment that was hit by flooding when the water started to rise.
The four became trapped and were among 27 who were confirmed dead in New Jersey. Four others are still being sought by officials after being swept away.
Family and friends paid tribute and went on to describe Shakia as “the sweetest person” as well as a loving aunt who died a hero.
Her mum, who lived just three miles away, added: “She was the sweetest girl who got along with everybody.
“She had a very good heart.”
Tributes have since been paid to her on social media, and a Gofundme campaign has been launched.
The Smith Funeral Home in Elizabeth is said to be ‘working with the family’ to reduce the cost, aiming to raise $10,000 for her funeral.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden will visit New York and New Jersey on Tuesday to see first hand the destruction wrought by Ida.
He has already approved disaster declarations for Louisiana, where Ida hit more than a week ago, allowing for federal aid for repairs and rebuilding.
States in the south were still grappling with widespread power cuts, water-logged homes and new flash flood threats from slow moving rain and drenching thunderstorms.
Storms that could produce two to three inches of rain “in a pretty short period of time” were drenching New Orleans and parts of Louisiana and Mississippi.
National Weather Service meteorologist Lara Pagano said: “Some of that will occur over soil that is saturated by Ida, areas that are already sensitive, with any additional heavy rain problematic and leading to flash flooding.”
Ida has been one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the US Gulf Coast, tearing a devastating path of destruction and crippling the New Orleans power grid.
On Monday, almost 480,000 customers in Louisiana lost power, according to the PowerOutage.us website.
The US Coast Guard said it was probing nearly 350 reports of oil spills in and along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Ida.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Ida caused more than $50 million in damage in that state after record-breaking rainfall of 3.1 inches per hour was recorded on Wednesday in New York City’s Central Park.