Former firefighter helps rescue two people stuck in Ida floodwaters
When the remnants of Ida brought major flooding to New Jersey, many residents jumped into action to help their neighbors.
The storm overwhelmed New Jersey’s 911 system, with many calls going unanswered. For many, it helped to know a first responder or to be lucky enough to be near one.
Dave Croop and Kristen Lorenc-Solano had largely put their days as first responders behind them. Croop is a former firefighter and Lorenc-Solano was an EMT.
But when Lorenc-Solano’s husband got stuck in the flood on Route 202 in Flemington, they jumped at the call.
“It was her husband, and it was up to the roof and then there was a poor guy that was hanging from his bumper and there was kind of no options,” says Croop.
Croop, with Lorenc-Solano’s help, tied himself to a tree and a car and started to head toward Lorenc-Solano’s husband.
“Then we saw a little head pop up behind the trunk as we were trying to get out to Kristen’s husband. And then we realized [this other man was] in a lot more trouble,” says Croop.
Glenn Centolanza was crouching behind a car, down by the license plate and clinging to the bumper.
“I stuck my body out, my legs, and the current just grabbed me. So imagine just pulling you down. I wasn’t expecting that strong of a current and I barely hung on. That’s how I knew it was dangerous and it wasn’t calm the way it looked when you’re sitting in the car,” Centolanza says.
At least 30 people died during the storm because of the current and flooding.
“It was rising so fast. Then I saw a Jeep and tractor-trailer getting pushed down the highway. That’s a very strong current,” says Lorenc-Solano.
Lorenc-Solano says that she knew her husband would have to wait. Croop focused on getting Centolanza to safety.
“If he doesn’t make the decision to come and get me and she doesn’t allow him to make that decision to come and get me instead of her husband, I’m gone,” says Centolanza.
The three have now formed a forever bond, even getting their families together to celebrate.
“What they did, I can never repay. I can never repay because they didn’t have to do that,” says Centolanza.
Croop was able to get to Lorenc-Solano’s husband right after rescuing Centolanza. Lorenc-Solano’s husband was driving home from the doctor’s office during the storm. He took Route 202 to avoid flooding on the back roads. He called his wife when he got stuck.
Lorenc-Solano and Croop were next door at Home Depot buying pumps to deal with home flooding.