New Jersey Mother of Woman Who Passed Away Trying To Save Her Neighbors During Ida Flooding Speaks Out About Last Moments on the Phone with Her Daughter 

An New Jersey woman was discovered on Thursday, Sept. 2 after she was attempting to rescue her neighbors in a apartment complex after they were hit with flooding by Hurricane Ida.

Before she died, 33-year-old Shakia Garrett called her mother Sharon, who lived just 3 miles away. “That day she called me and told me, ‘I can’t swim, Mommy,’” Sharon told “She was crying. We just couldn’t get to her.”

Garrett lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey where more than 12 inches of rain fell between Sept. 1 and Sept 2. In the apartment complex where Garrett lived, five lives were alleged by the floods, while 27 people across the state have died as a result of the storm. In the apartment complex where Garrett lived, five peeople passed away due to the floods, while 27 people across the state have died as a result of the storm.

According to Garrett’s friend Salaam Ismiall, she ran to the home of neighbors Jose Torres, 71, Rosa Espinal, 72, and their 38-year-old son Jose to get them out of their apartment.

Ismiall says the water level got high quickly and stared to burst through the toilet. By the time she made the call to her mom, the water was up to her neck. The three members of the Torres family also didn’t survive. Garrett’s apartment and the Torres family’s apartment were both on the first floor.

“I consider her a hero,” Ismiall said. At least 50 people across the country have died in the storm.

Garrett was giving family and friends updates via texts, but, the texts just stopped suddenly. “All of a sudden she just stopped texting,” Khadija Naim, a family friend said. “I’m not thinking anything of it. I’m just thinking maybe she fell asleep or did something else in the house. I keep texting her and I’m like, ‘Okay, she’ll get back to me.”

Alyssa Green, Garrett’s older sister, described the scene of what it looked like to go to Garrett’s apartment the next morning after finding out her sister had died.

“I head over to Oakwood Plaza and the scene … it’s crazy. As I approached the apartments, I saw the first one was wide open, the door off and everything that was inside [the apartment] was outside. I stopped right there because then I started to see my brother and my father walk toward me and I didn’t see my sister,” she told NBC.

Passaic Mayor Hector Lora described the chaos with the storm’s devastating.

“It’s such a challenge because there is no moving forward. It’s almost like grief in limbo. You don’t know what’s going on. You don’t know whether you’re grieving a loss, or you are still concerned whether missing individuals can be found — even though everything may say they won’t, you still hope for the very best,” Lora told CNN.

“She was the sweetest girl who got along with everybody,” Sharon said talking about Garrett, one of her eight children. “She had a very good heart.’’

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