CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio - A Cuyahoga Falls couple trapped up to their necks in a flooded basement was rescued thanks to neighbors who jumped into action with an ax and a circular saw.
Michael and Michaelann Hammonds hurried to their basement because of a tornado warning Monday night, but a few minutes after they went downstairs, the foundation on their Dwight Street home collapsed and water came pouring into the residence.
They tried to escape, but the flood moved so quickly, they became trapped.
"The water and the stuff from the basement pulled us up to the rafters, so we had our heads between the floor joist with about six inches of air," Michael Hammonds said.
The situation seemed like it couldn't be anymore dire until a gas line broke and the couple, about 15 feet apart from each other, smelled the pungent odor of gas.
"We were smelling gas and I thought, 'Well, I didn't drown. Now I'm going to suffocate', so I threw up a jackpot prayer and God answered," Michael said.
Fortunately, the couple's three children, ages 13, 12 and 9, had not made it down the basement yet and they alerted neighbor Don Molesky to the desperate situation.
Molesky quickly ran down into his own flooded basement and grabbed his circular saw.
He raced over to the Hammonds' home and was joined by another neighbor who used to an ax to smash holes through the first floor.
Molesky made the holes bigger with his trusty power tool, but realized it would be a delicate rescue.
"They had their heads up in the rafters because they were floating in the water and they were clear up in the rafters, so I told them to get back while we were cutting," Molesky said.
The neighbors worked together to pull Michaelann from the basement through the hole they created.
By that time, Cuyahoga Falls firefighters arrived and pulled Michael through the second hole.
Molesky doesn't consider himself a hero, just a guy who did the right thing with his adrenaline flowing.
"You do what you got to do when something like this happens. You just got to think on your feet," he said.
Michael and Michaelann see things differently. They will be forever grateful for the courageous actions of their neighbors and the fire department.
"I love my neighbors. They're really good people. They saved our lives," Michael said
They expect to lose most of their belongings to the flood and their home will likely be condemned.
However, the couple's cat, which they feared died in the flood, was found alive inside the home on Tuesday afternoon.
The Hammonds' church has started a fundraising effort to help the family of five through the rough times.
But after the dramatic rescue, Michael is reflecting on the importance of life, not personal belongings.
"My kids have parents today. Stuff can be replaced."