Marley, a 4-month-old puppy who was adopted recently by local musician Tom Lee and his wife Julie, had been given up for lost when he fell back into swirling water while Tom and Julie were being winched into a resuce helicopter. But Marley survived against all the odds, and is now none the worse for his ordeal!
Tom and Julie Lee with 'miracle pup Marley' - none the worse for his ordeal!
In an interview with Spectrum FM's Richard Shanley, Tom described the dramatic series of events: "Julie and I were sitting in our living room after lunch on Friday (28th September) watching the water steadily rising around us. Luckily we were in the lee of a hill so we escaped a torrent of water nearby which was sweeping away everything in its path - but we knew we'd have to get out. So we went down into the garden and climbed a tree to get up above the water level.
"There were neighbours around shouting to us to ask if we were OK. Among them Chris Smith and her son Elrin who got in touch with the emergency services - and after a while a helicopeter appeared to airlift us to safety. It was a really tricky operation as they needed us on the roof and we were still in the tree. We had to scramble down and then climb up the rejas to get onto the roof.
"Sometwere in this confusion Marley fell back into the water. I was frantic and scrambled down again to try to find him - but the rescue guy was shouting that we needed to leave him and come now - the helicopter was perched precariously on the roof and couldn't stay there long. So I came back up again although it was heartbreaking to do so.
Tom Lee's house, seen from the rescue helicopter after they had been airlifted to safety
"We were flown to Chris Smith's house not far away which was on dry ground, and they looked after us that night. But we were in floods of tears most of the night, not just over losing the cars and our house - we now estimate it will cost over €100.000 to put it all right - but over losing Marley.
"The next morning the floods had abated some, so I went back with the builders who were helping us to clear up. I searched everywhere for any sign of Marley, but there was none. So I went into the house - and couldn't believe my eyes. There was little Marley sitting on an upturned sofa with mud and water all round him - but he was OK!!! Talk about mircales, he's definitely Marley the miracle dog now!
"I have to pay tremendous tribute to the emergency rescue services. I'm a strong swimmer, a scuba diver, but if I'd been down in that water I'd have just been swept away and drowned. The skill of the pilot to get the helicopter half perched on a sloping rooftop while we were hauled up was ubelievable. We have a nightmare of insurance claims and repairs ahead of us - but we are OK, and so is Marley. The local people have been tremendously kind and helpful, friends have lent us their bunglaow at Los Conteros indefinitely, and someone else has lent us a car for a week until we can organise some transport for ourselves."
The sheer power of the water, which caused Tom to say he'd have been swept away and drowned, can be seen in a short video clip (filmed by Vanessa Rodriguez late morning on Friday 28th Sept. and posted on You Tube) of it pouring down the road in Pueblo Laguna.[:]