When Kristy and Matthew Pruett went to sleep Saturday night, the water on Antioch Road wasn’t that high.
But by 2 a.m. Sunday, the water had quickly risen and the Pruetts were being told they had about 30 minutes to get out before the water would reach their home.
“The next thing we knew, there were fire trucks out there honking and telling everyone to evacuate,” Kristy said. “[They were] taking people out in boats and everything.”
Still though, there were some who did not want to leave their homes that night, including an 86-year-old man.
Matthew said he went back the next day to see what was going on in the neighborhood and saw the man’s caretaker carrying things out of the house and through the flood waters.
“She was saying ‘I need to get him out, but he won’t go,’” he said. “I said ‘if you want to get him out, I’ll try to find someone to give me a hand to get him out.’”
Matthew and a neighbor walked to the man’s camper to help him out, but the neighbor ended up having to leave and returned to dry land. Matthew was able to convince the man to leave before gathering him on his back and carrying him outside.
This is the second time Matthew has had to carry someone out of the neighborhood during serious weather conditions, he said. The first came during an ice storm that knocked power out in the community.
“The first one was an elderly woman,” Kristy said. “She got stuck in her camper and he had to go get her out and carry her out on his back.”
Dawn Mathews called Matthew’s actions heroic, and said her church hopes to help them.
“[The community] really need[s] help,” Mathews said. “We are going over to see if we can cook food for all of them this week … Our church, United Baptist Church in Valdese, is going to try to help as many of them as we can.”
Matthew’s actions have garnered a lot of traction on social media, but he said he was just doing what people should do.
“I didn’t do it for the glory or acknowledgement or anything like that, it’s just the person that I am,” Matthew said. “I see somebody that needs help, I go. I help. No questions asked … I do it because that’s what human beings are supposed to do, they’re supposed to help people in their time of need.”
Matthew pointed out the sacrifices that firefighters at volunteer departments make, specifically thanking Chesterfield Fire and Rescue for their dedication to the community.
“They spend all this time out in the rain, cold, it doesn’t matter what it is, they’re out there putting their lives on the line and they don’t get the acknowledgement they need,” Matthew said. “I was telling my wife ‘why do all these people want to come talk to me when [the firefighters are] the heroes? They need to be put in the spotlight, not me.’”
The Pruetts were planning to return to their home Tuesday to find out what could be salvaged from their storage buildings, which were storing items in preparation for the baby Kristy is due to have in about 10 weeks.
“We’re not exactly sure what all we’ve lost because we haven’t had a chance to get back and go through everything,” Matthew said. “The water is just now receding back down into the field behind the house.”
One of their cars also was lost to the flood, Matthew said.
Luckily, there didn’t seem to be any serious injuries reported during the flooding over the weekend, said Fire Marshal and Emergency Management Director Mike Willis.
Emergency officials nearly had to close the bridge over Johns River on N.C. 18/U.S. 64 on Sunday because of how much the river had risen, Willis said.
Rainfall totals for Morganton were around 6.71 inches for the event, said Bill Martin with the National Weather Service. The weather is expected to clear up Tuesday, but some showers may linger into the morning, with a chance of light rain Wednesday afternoon.