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 NJ.com. “She was crying. We just couldn’t get to her.”
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.
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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