'Rough swim': Man braves Florida's flooded streets to save wheelchair-bound mom, 84, during Hurricane Ian

Johnny Lauder, 49, received a panicked phone call from his mother Karen, who told him that water had risen to her chest

'Rough swim': Man braves Florida's flooded streets to save wheelchair-bound mom, 84, during Hurricane Ian
Johnny Lauder's 84-year-old mother Karen was trapped in her home in Naples, Florida (GoFundMe/DailyMail video)
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NAPLES, FLORIDA: A 49-year-old man swam half a mile through the flooded streets of Florida last week to save his wheelchair-bound mother who was trapped in a water-filled home amid Hurricane Ian. Johnny Lauder dove into the bacteria-ridden water surging through Naples after he received a call from his mother Karen, 84, saying she was trapped inside the home and the water was filling up.

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The initial forecast had predicted the catastrophic category 4 storm would hit Tampa Bay but on Tuesday the storm shifted its course to the south. It has since turned into one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the United States in decades. Karen, whose one leg is amputated, told her son over the phone that water had reached up to her chest. 

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Hurricane Ian
Karen could be seen wrapped in a blanket after she was rescued from her home (DailyMail video screengrab)

Lauder lives in East Naples with his family and said his mother did not want to evacuate her home because of the hurricane. This made the whole family decide to stay back, Lauder told NBC-2. As the water rose, he put his three children along with their three pets inside their home's attic crawl space and escaped through a window on a mission to save his mother.  

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Hurricane Ian
Johnny lauder swam half a mile to save his mother trapped in her home amid Hurricane Ian
(DailyMail video screengrab)

"The water started getting even higher, and at that point, I knew things were going to be bad," he told the outlet. He swam through the five-foot storm surge to his mother's house, about half a mile away from his family home. "It was a very rough swim, if you call it that, and I knew the water was coming up faster and faster," Lauder said. "Who wouldn't go for their mom?" Speaking to the Washington Post, Lauder said if he had waited any longer, "she wouldn't be here." He added, "And that's my mom. I would've done it for anybody's mom or anyone else in that situation. You know, that's what you're supposed to do."

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Hurricane Ian left much of coastal southwest Florida in darkness early on Thursday, bringing
Hurricane Ian left much of coastal southwest Florida in darkness early on Thursday, bringing "catastrophic" flooding that left officials readying a huge emergency response to a storm of rare intensity
(Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images)

Lauder took many pictures on the way that showed the storm's devastation. Cars were swept away, power lines were broken and almost all household items were washed up. When Lauder reached his mother, he took a picture of her up to her chest in the water. His relatives have since opened a GoFundMe page to help repair the flooded home.

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In this aerial view, a home burns after Hurricane Ian passed through the area on September 29, 2022 in Sanibel, Florida. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surge and rain to the area causing severe damage (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
In this aerial view, a home burns after Hurricane Ian passed through the area on September 29, 2022 in Sanibel, Florida. The hurricane brought high winds, storm surge and rain to the area causing severe damage
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Hurricane Ian's death toll had climbed up to 80 as of Sunday. The storm was still not settled on Monday, leaving around 700,000 homes and businesses in Florida without electricity. Meanwhile, many have welcomed Joe Biden's decision to temporarily waive a federal law so that a British Petroleum ship could deliver 300,000 barrels of diesel. Biden has authorized 100% federal funding for a month to remove debris, search and rescue efforts, power, water, and food restoration.  

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