MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WNCT) – As Tropical Storm Ophelia made its impact on Eastern North Carolina early Saturday, a Carteret County family had a unique experience … welcoming their first child into the world.
In Gloucester, Kendra Long’s water broke at 5:30 in the morning Saturday, just as Ophelia made landfall. Her journey to get to the hospital is one that she and emergency crews say they will never forget.
As Beaufort Rescue and EMS were responding to stranded motorists due to the flooding in the Down East area, they were diverted to assist a pregnant woman in distress, also stuck on the roadway.
“Winds were probably blowing 40 plus maybe at a time, heavy wind and the surge were just coming onto the road,” said Perry McCormick, paramedic and B-shift Captain for Beaufort Rescue and EMS. “At that time, we couldn’t back up and there’s no way there’s no way to stop.”
But just before reaching Long, the ambulance was overwhelmed and lost to the weather.
“The winds and the water kind of just washed it away, and we were like, No, we don’t know what to do,” said Long.
“We had to leave it, I mean, it’s the patient over the vehicle. I mean, that’s the end goal here,” said McCormick.
The emergency crews left the ambulance in the ditch and continued on foot to check on Long. They waited for other agencies to respond with a high-water rescue truck to take them to the hospital.
“We wouldn’t have that baby in the truck,” said McCormick.
“Everybody piled in and just kind of going was crazy, because we had to look for the yellow line. We would go this way and everybody would scream, go left, go left, and then the people in the back are like no, go this way, go that way,” said Long.
Minutes after arriving at Carteret Healthcare, which had no power at the time, baby Laytham was born at 7 pounds, 4 ounces. Long had some complications after her delivery, so she is grateful for having made it to the hospital in time.
“I’m pretty sure that he’ll probably be reminded the rest of his life about this,” Long said.
She thanks all of the first responders and hospital staff for putting themselves at risk to help save her family. McCormick added that Beaufort, Harker’s Island, and Otway all responded to assist.
The ambulance was towed back to the station and was being looked at to see the extent of the damage the storm caused to it.