tampabay.com

With water rising, mom acted fast

By TOM ZUCCO
Published September 13, 2005


When water got chest high in her home in Bay St. Louis, Joni Clack had a decision to make.

She had cared for her 8-year-old son round the clock since he suffered brain damage after nearly drowning as a toddler. He can't walk, speak or eat on his own.

Now the storm was directly overhead, and no place was safe.

"For a minute, I figured what's the point?" she said. "I never want him to hurt. And no one else can take care of him like I can.

"But then I realized I had to get my act together."

She found a mattress and floated Tyler to safety. Days later, Clack's brother arrived from Spring Hill. Tyler is now at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, recovering from infections. With their house and all of Tyler's medical equipment gone, the Red Cross has stepped in to help.

"I remember looking down at him in the middle of the storm and seeing him look up at me," Clack said Monday. "I was so relieved he was okay. My heart just melted."