Chloe, who lives with her grandfather in Whitesburg, Ky., was alone with no one but her trusted companion, Sandy, the dog she’s had since she was little.
“There was water as far as the eye could see,” she told CNN in a post. “I had a real panic attack.”
But she was determined to get out of it safely and take her dog with her.
Chloe’s grandparents were in a house a few yards away, separated from their granddaughter by the rushing waters. They yelled at her, urging Chloe to stay inside until help arrived. But with little cell service and a likely overwhelmed 911 center not answering her calls, Chloe said she realized she had to get out to survive.
“My next thought was that we should swim to my uncle’s house,” where the rest of his family was taking refuge, she said. “I momentarily put Sandy in the water to see if she could swim. But she couldn’t, so I picked her up and went back inside, wading through waist-deep water to trying to find something she could float to put on.”
After experimenting with other pieces of furniture, Chloe placed her dog in a plastic drawer in her closet to keep her dry, then placed the drawer on a couch cushion to keep her afloat.
“I finally had a plan that I thought might work,” she said. “I knew the dangers of trying to swim in deep, moving water, but I felt I had no choice.”
She swam through the cold waters, pushing Sandy’s pad in front of her, until she reached the thin roof of a nearby storage building; the only part of the structure not yet submerged.
There the two sat for more than five hours before Chloe’s cousin rescued the teenager and her dog using a kayak. Nearby, Chloe’s family, sheltering on the second floor of her uncle’s house, watched and talked to her as they waited for help.
When the teenager returned to her grandmother’s house, she collapsed, “from the relief of knowing that Sandy and I survived the flood,” she said.
“My heart goes out to all the other people who have lost and suffered far more than me in this horrific devastation,” Chloe added.
In a Facebook post after the rescue, Terry Adams, the teenager’s father, called his daughter a “hero”.
“We lost everything today,” he wrote. “Everything but what matters most.”