Nathan Day rescued a total of 9 people. He and his wife waded through the floods at 3 in the morning as they didn't have a boat.
Nathan Day's morning on July 28, 2022, was nothing extraordinary until he got a message from a neighbor that left him worried. She was pleading with him to help her grandchildren who were stuck in the floods.
Day, a former coal miner who lives in Hindman, Knott County, was reportedly unaware of what exactly was happening until he got that message. "I didn't know what they was talking about, then I went outside," Day said, per CNN. "You heard a lot of people screaming and begging for anyone to help."
Since Day and his wife Krystal didn't have a boat, they waded through the water to help and rescue the five children and two mothers who were stuck on the roof of their home. "At 3 o'clock in the morning, I was in that water with my wife. I put a child under each arm and one around my neck and took them back to my house. The oldest child was holding a small dog," Day said.
Once Day rescued the children and women, he recalled that two of his former high school teachers, Ella Prater and Irma Gayheart, lived nearby. He knew he had to help them, so he set out to rescue them too. Describing the situation as "heartbreaking," he said that he "just kept pacing back and forth because I saw the water rising and I knew my two former teachers were probably trapped in their houses," Day said.
He then sought help from three neighbors to check on the teachers, because both of them lived alone, he added. When they saw Prater, Day said they held her "by both side of her arms and never looked back. We said, 'We have to go.'"
Though Gayheart took a while to answer the door, once she did, she informed him that she was OK and had been on her kitchen countertop watching the water rise. "I wasn't going to leave her there because she's a special lady to me. You could tell by looking at her face that she was drained," Day said. "She spent the night on the kitchen counter top and the water was up by the countertop."
Despite the devastation – despite the loss – the people of Floyd County and all of Eastern Kentucky remain strong. Everywhere you look, you can see neighbors helping neighbors. It's really something special. pic.twitter.com/o6vhL1rlEB— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) August 2, 2022
Eventually, with some help from his neighbors, he was able to reconnect the two women to their worried relatives, who were waiting for them with bated breaths.
It's not every day that anyone would risk their lives to save someone else's, so when Day was asked why he did what he did, he said it was because "These are two of the most special women you'll meet in your life, and when they show you love, they show you true love. They truly care about everyone that's around them and that stuck with me my whole life."
On August 1, 2022, Governer Andy Beshear claimed that this was one of the worst floodings in history in Eastern Kentucky, adding that the death toll had risen to 37 and many remain missing, per CNN. The death toll could still rise further, according to officials, with "hundreds of unaccounted for people" at a minimum, the governor said at a news conference earlier.
Cover Image Source: YouTube | CNN ('Water was over my head': Kentucky man rescues 7 from floods)