Kentucky woman survived flood by binding herself to her children with a vacuum cord

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Kentucky woman survived flood by binding herself to her children with a vacuum cord

August 11, 2022 - Jim Denison, PhD

FILE - Members of the Winchester, Ky., Fire Department walk inflatable boats across flood waters over a road in Jackson, Ky., to pick up people stranded by the floodwaters on Thursday, July 28, 2022. The same stubborn weather system caused intense downpours in St. Louis and Appalachia that led to devastating and in some cases deadly flooding. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

FILE - Members of the Winchester, Ky., Fire Department walk inflatable boats across flood waters over a road in Jackson, Ky., to pick up people stranded by the floodwaters on Thursday, July 28, 2022. The same stubborn weather system caused intense downpours in St. Louis and Appalachia that led to devastating and in some cases deadly flooding. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

Jessica Willett heard loud pops and cracks as roaring floodwaters fractured her manufactured home in eastern Kentucky. The floor caved in and water poured in. Her car parked outside was swept away in the deluge.

She and her children—three-year-old son Isaiah and eleven-year-old daughter Nevaeh—huddled in a bedroom. When their home shifted off its foundation, she hoped the mattress might float. And she cut an electrical cord off a vacuum cleaner and bound herself to her children.

“I can at least try to save them,” she said. “If they find us, they’ll find us together.”

Jessica and her children survived. At least thirty-seven people in her area did not.

A private island and a one-person aircraft

In lighter news, a private Scottish island with a five-bedroom home and a lighthouse is for sale for less than the average house in America.

Pladda Island has just gone on the market for $426,267. It is made up of nearly twenty-eight acres of land with a 2.5-acre garden, a helipad, and a stone jetty for boat transportation. The lighthouse was first installed in 1790 but is now fully automated. However, the house has not been used in recent years and “needs to be upgraded,” according to the listing.

If you’re looking for money to pay for your new island, you might consider sleeping on the job. That is, if your employer is the online mattress company Casper. They are looking to hire someone with “exceptional sleeping ability” to show the public and social media how easy it is to achieve restful sleep on their mattresses. While you’re awake, you’ll be expected to share your sleeping experience on different social media platforms.

Now that you have your island and a way to pay for it, you’ll need transportation to and from your new home. For that, you might consider a new flying car being touted as the “future of air travel.”

The eVTOL (meaning it can take off and land vertically) Jetson One flying car is a one-person ultralight aircraft. It can travel at sixty-three miles per hour and stay airborne for up to twenty minutes thanks to a Tesla battery pack. The Jetson One can be ordered for personal delivery (though 2022 production is sold out). You will need a $22,000 deposit and a $70,000 final payment.

“Bear one another’s burdens”

Jessica Willett bound her children to herself with an electrical cord, saving their lives. She knew that if they were to survive the floods that ravaged their region, they would have to do it together.

By contrast, you can apparently make a life on Pladda Island all by yourself if you have the means and the necessary transportation. But if storms strike with anything like the force seen in Kentucky recently, you’ll wish you had family or community to help you.

That’s one of the most dangerous dimensions of natural disasters—they are so seldom predictable. The time to prepare for the next storm is before it strikes. The day to decide we will live in community is before we need community.

What is true physically is also true spiritually. We are instructed to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Scripture teaches, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). Paul’s word to the Thessalonians is God’s word to us: “We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

“It is not good that the man should be alone”

God calls us into community because he knows we were made to need each other. His assessment of the first man is true of us all: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

Conversely, our existentialistic culture prizes rugged individualism and self-reliance. We applaud the self-made success, the lone hero who takes on the odds and wins. Socrates taught us to “know thyself” as the path to wisdom—not “know God” or “know what you can learn from others.” Even when we engage in community, many do so through social media where they can pretend to be whoever they wish to be and hide behind virtual barriers of digital inaccessibility.

It is unsurprising in such an isolated culture that loneliness would be such an epidemic today.

So, let me encourage you to do emotionally and relationally what Jessica Willett did physically: bind yourself to the people you love. Take steps today into accountable community whereby you pray for people as they pray for you and you share life together with transparent honesty and grace.

Most of all, take a step today into deeper intimacy with your Father. St. Catherine of Siena prayed to the Father, “Your Son went down from the heights of his divinity to the depths of our humanity.” Then she asked, “Can anyone’s heart remain closed and hardened after this?”

“To multiplied trials he multiplies peace”

Annie Johnson Flint (1886–1932) lived a life of enormous suffering and pain. Her mother died when Annie was three years old; she and her baby sister were eventually adopted by the Flint family. Shortly after graduating from high school, she began to develop arthritis on a level that eventually became debilitating. She supported herself with her poems and other writing accomplished with a pen pushed through bent fingers and held by swollen joints.

Her suffering continued to the end of her life, but her trust in her Lord never wavered. One of her most famous poems is now a much-loved hymn:

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions he addeth his mercy,
To multiplied trials he multiplies peace. 

Why do you need to sing these words today?

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