BROOKSVILLE, Fla - Severe weather in Hernando County almost turned deadly for a Brooksville woman who was simply trying to make dinner for her family.
Margie Hall, 70, was driving eastbound on Cortez Boulevard around 6:30 p.m. Thursday just as a torrential downpour hit. Within minutes, streets were flooded and ditches filled with water, prompting officials to issue a severe weather alert urging residents to stay indoors and off the roadways.
Hall said the water covered the roadway like a sheet.
"It was really coming down," said Hall.
Hall tried making a left turn into the strip mall. She thought there was a turnoff beneath the water blanketing the road.
Only, the water tricked her, there was no turnoff.
Instead, she found herself in a ditch full of water.
"My car is going down into the grass. Next thing I know, I couldn't go forward, I couldn't go backward. Water was coming up the tires, coming up to my ankles in the car," she said.
The water reached her waist.
Still buckled up, Hall knew she was in trouble and couldn't get out of her car. She grabbed her cell phone and frantically called 911.
Then, she was able to roll down the driver's side window.
"I waved my hand and this really nice, young gentleman came over and pulled me out," Hall said.
The man, who has not yet been identified, helped Hall to dry land.
"If he hadn't come along I don't know what would have happened," Hall said.
Shortly after being rescued, Hall's son-in-law, Ed Tafelski, showed up to help.
When he spoke to ABC Action News, he had on no shoes or socks.
And, he was sopping wet up to his waist. Tafelski said he waded through the water to retrieve his mother-in-law's keys and to turn off the car's flashers.
"I was swimming in there," explained Tafelski.
"It was the wildest storm I have seen in 25 years."
Tafelski helped call towing companies while his mother-in-law called her insurance company. Hall said she is not sure if her car is salvageable. As water in the ditch receded, a tow truck driver was able to pull Hall's car out.
The only thing she was sure of at 9 p.m. was that delivered pizza would be for dinner.
Hernando County Sheriff's deputies partially blocked off the roadway until the water receded. They used flares to warm people of the water on the road.
Both lanes of Cortez Boulevard are now back open.