FROM THE ARCHIVES: Woman, grandson cling to cross for 5 hours in - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Woman, grandson cling to cross for 5 hours in raging flood waters

Clara Gantt and Travis Catchings (Source: Fred Hunter) Clara Gantt and Travis Catchings (Source: Fred Hunter)
BLYTHEWOOD, SC (WIS) -

It was early in the morning on Sunday. It was dark and it was raining -- raining very hard. That wasn't going to stop Clara Gantt from going to church.

Around 6 a.m., she left her daughter's home near Blythewood for the trip to her home church, Three Rivers Baptist Church in Irmo.

Hidden by the darkness and blinding rain was a sheet floodwater crossing Wilson Road about two miles away near Lake Elizabeth.

As she enters the waters, her car starts to float. "I knew there was water out there, but I didn't know that it was going to stall me and I did." she said. She immediately realized she was in trouble. She tried to call 911. Nobody answered. She was finally able to get in touch with her family.

"By the time they got there, my car shifted and went backwards down into a field."

"I said, 'Dear Lord are you taking me home right now?' Immediately I flipped over to my back and it was like he said, 'No, not right now.'"

Her grandson, Travis Catchings, came with a deer harness off of a deer stand and some rope. 

He got to his grandmother, whose car had been washed off of the road into a church yard at Jordan Independent Church. "I got [the door] open and got her out of the car," Catchings said. "At that point, we had to just sit there and wait."

"There was a little church right there. Where my car stopped was right beside a huge red cross," Gantt said. " I was literally, after I got out of the car, holding onto the cross. I was clinging to the cross."

Gantt and her grandson were clinging to the cross for five hours until rescuers showed up.

"The rescue people came," Gantt said. "A guy came out to us with a boogie board. And I said 'I'm losing it' and it flipped with me and I went down in the water."

"So I hopped up on top of the vehicle and I called my wife. I had her phone still with me and I had a waterproof case on it," Catchings said. "I really thought that was the last time that I was ever going to talk to her. I just told her that I loved her and that I didn't know what was going to happen."

A rescue swimmer named Brad Smith was finally able to get to Gantt.

"Jesus is my savior," Gantt said. "This story is not about me, this is about what he did to save me."

The church's pastor, Lionel Sapp, is grateful Gantt survived the ordeal. His church, however, is a total loss. 

Gantt suffered a broken ankle and a little hypothermia, but she's going to be okay.

Copyright 2015 WIS. All rights reserved.

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