‘We Didn’t Have Much Time’: Naples Man Saves Mom From Rapid Flooding After Ian

A Florida man used his experience as a former rescue diver and police officer to rescue his mother when the storm surge from Hurricane Ian overtook her home.

Johnny Lauder had to push through the floodwaters to save his 84-year-old disabled mother, who was alone and stranded in her Naples apartment.

“We’re looking at four feet of water, and I had to swim forever,” Lauder says in a video he filmed as he navigated through the water.

“She said the water was her at her ankle, then it was at the bottom of her chair, and when the water was at her belly button, I knew that was it,” Lauder recalled. “We didn’t have much time.”

Lauder said a 40-minute swim felt like four minutes.

“I made my way to the corner, grabbing on to anything I could,” he said. “At times my feet were lifted up and I had to kick, and other times when I was lucky, I could get a footing and just push.”

Lauder was swimming against the full force of the current.

“I asked God, please send me a boat, and low and behold, there was a boat next to me,” he said. “But unfortunately, it was chained up and didn’t have keys, but thankfully there was a life jacket and cushion that floated in it, so I grabbed that and used that for my mom.”

When Lauder reached his mom’s house, he said he felt terror and relief.

“… Because I could hear my mom screaming on the other side of the door, and it was terror not knowing if she was trapped or hurt,” he said.

Johnny Lauder

Johnny Lauder took this photo when he finally reached his mother after swimming through storm surge from Hurricane Ian

Lauder breathed a sigh of relief when he learned mom was a little frightened but fine.

“I went around to the back of the house, snapped a picture of her, and sent it to the family that she’s OK,” he said. “She doesn’t have teeth, but she is smiling and she was really happy to see me. I think that’s the happiest she’s ever been to see me.”

Lauder and his family lost two homes and all of their possessions in Hurricane Ian, but they still have each other.