Ankle-deep water had already engulfed the Valle family’s basement floor in New Jersey on Wednesday, Sept. 1, before the unthinkable occurred: Ida’s floodwaters crashed through a wall, trapping and nearly drowning a mother and her son.
A security camera inside captured the collapse of the basement wall, which could have killed Janice Valle and one of her boys. The wall of water had filled the entire basement in a couple of seconds, trapping both of them in different portions of the basement, NBC New York reported.
When the remnants of Hurricane Ida struck the northeast late Wednesday and into Thursday, the video shows Janice Valle’s Cranford home being destroyed. Ida killed at least 46 people across five states, including 25 in New Jersey and 13 in New York City.
“My son called his father to say goodbye to him, he thought he was going to die,” Valle told NBC New York on Friday.
Valle’s son may be seen in the footage walking across the already flooded basement steps to safety. Then, all of a sudden, the wall collapses, and Valle can be heard screaming as the waters rush in, rapidly filling the room and isolating her from her other son, who was still in the basement.
“Thank god he made it to the stairs because the wall caved in and the water came in and would have crushed him,” the Cranford mother said.
In trying to find an air pocket, her other son had punched a tile out of the drop ceiling. His brother and father also used an outdoor umbrella to break a window and bring him to safety.
“All he knows is he was in between two beams so he’s breathing, he lost his sense of where he was,” dad Marlon Valle said.
Their mother was still stuck at the other end of the basement, clinging to a boiler with only four inches of air to spare. She could hear her husband reaching out to her through the commotion.
“Janice, you have to come here and open the window so I can pull you out,” she recalled her husband telling her.
For this family, the collapse of the basement wall, which was captured on video, has become a life-changing event.
“We’re definitely going to live differently, enjoying everything. Everyday is precious,” Janice said.