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When Hurricane Ian flooded his mother’s house, this ex-cop walked half a mile in the water to rescue her

(CNN) — After Hurricane Ian hit Florida’s west coast, a Naples man walked a mile through flood water to save his 85-year-old mother.

Johnny Lauder, a former police officer, told CNN he sprang into action after his mother, who uses a wheelchair, called in a panic and said water was rushing into their house and reaching the chest.

“I just wanted to get there,” Lauder said. “I knew that time was of the essence. She was running out of time. And you just have to stay focused and keep going and going and going.”

When Hurricane Ian flooded his mother's house, this ex-cop walked half a mile in the water to rescue her

Johnny Lauder said he ventured through floodwaters from Hurricane Ian to reach his mother after their house began to fill with water.

Lauder shared a video of her harrowing journey through streets that had turned into rivers to reach her mother.

He arrived home and found her up to her neck in water, but happy to see her son.

“The water was up to the windows and I heard her screaming inside,” Lauder said. “It was a shock and a sigh of relief at the time: a shock that she might be hurt, a sigh of relief knowing that there was still air in her lungs.”

Her mother’s house was filled with so much water that furniture and other items floated around her, a video shared by Lauder shows.

Lauder said she knew her mother had been in the water for some time and was shivering from the cold. “I know from my training what the onset of hypothermia looks like, and I wasn’t going to let that happen,” she said.

He propped her up on a table and tried to keep her warm.

The dramatic rescues from the air after Ian passed through Florida 0:58

“I found that the only dry thing in her entire house was a set of sheets on the top shelf,” Lauder told CNN. “I grabbed the sheets and the first thing he said was, ‘Not my good sheets. Don’t get them wet.’”

As the water began to recede, Lauder’s son, who lives nearby, also rushed to his grandmother’s aid, and father and son worked to get her to dry land. They pushed his wheelchair through the water to safety.

His mother is now in the hospital being treated for a bacterial infection but is doing well overall, he said. “She’s warm, she’s safe, that’s all that matters,” Lauder said.

Destruction on Sanibel Island: Images after the passage of Hurricane Ian 1:01

Ian made landfall last Wednesday as a raging Category 4 hurricane, lashing Florida with record-breaking storm surges, damaging winds, catastrophic flooding and trapping residents in their homes. Since then, rescue teams across the state have made hundreds of rescues and continue to search for survivors.

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