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Ordinary Hero

November 2, 2016

        Woodys Home Underwater

Woody's home underwater.

Photo Credit: Woody's nephew, Buddy

Written by: HFI Reservist & Chaplain, John VanTiem

There's a term for people like Woody Norris and his nephew, but don't let them hear you say it. That term is hero.

During the worst of the flooding in North Carolina, Woody Norris and his nephew Buddy spent the night in their boats hauling out people who were stranded by the rising water. Buddy says that he rescued ten people, including a mom and her kids from a stranded car. After having to break the rear window to get to them, he removed an infant from a car seat and handed her to the mom, then helped the other two kids out. From the car… to the boat… to dry land; that's pretty heroic.

If you ask Woody how many he rescued, he just shrugs and says, "As many as I could." Sometimes wading in the freezing water, sometimes in the boat, he kept going all night long.

But for nearly two weeks after that horrific night, Woody never felt like a hero; he felt like a failure. That's because of what he thought happened. One of the neighbors he was helping was a wheelchair bound elderly woman on oxygen. Woody had ahold of her and was helping her into the boat. Then just like that, she slipped away into the water and he couldn't find her in the turbulent, fast charging water. Later, news reports said that one of the dead was an elderly woman in a wheelchair, so for two weeks he assumed it was his neighbor and he had failed to save her.

Just recently he learned that his neighbor was alive. While he's certainly aware of the grief that the other woman's family is experiencing, he is extremely relieved that his "as many as he could save" somehow included this particular neighbor.

Like I said, there's a term for people like Woody; he's a hero. And today, Hope Force Reservists were able to help him save his house from destructive mold by removing the flooring and drywall that had sat under water for days after that horribly heroic night.

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