Colleen Jones, left, with best friend Nicole Lancaster, who nominated her for the Today Show, $10,000. Photographed at the Bank Hotel, Dungog where the owner has allowed flood victims to stay and with her dogs, from left Nipper, Kinky (being held) and PriscillaAnother 10 minutes and Colleen Jones and her three foxy-cross-Jack Russell companions could have died in her home as it was swept away down Dungog’s main street last month.
The 59-year-old will never forget standing chest deep in flood water in her front yard and screaming for help with the three dogs held strongly in her arms.
She was standing next to a large tree for some protection from the current, and she knew the strength of the water would soon carry her and her dogs away.
Moments earlier she had re-entered the house, after helping her mother escape with her daughter, to get her dogs. There was no way she was leaving her “babies” inside.
It was still dark, and the three of them were stranded on the raised half of the electric bed in her mother’s room. They looked terrified.
As Ms Jones grabbed them tightly in her arms and headed for the door, the entertainment unit collapsed, and she found herself wading around furniture to get out the front door.
It was then she made her way to that tree, thinking it could be the end.
Luckily her 26-year-old son, Keegan, and neighbour John Edwards came to her rescue and they made it to safety.
But what happened next still shocks her to the core. Her weatherboard house, which was at least 120 years old, floated off its piers and was swept away.
It was the third house to disappear on that street as floodwater lashed the town. Her son’s house and the house Mr Edwards was living in also disappeared.
“We all could have been washed away,” she said.
Each time the near-tragedy replays in her mind she is emotional. But on Friday she had a reason to smile.
Perched at the local pub since April 21 in a room that faces the balcony, so the dogs can be with her and her husband, Stephen, she had an unexpected visitor, Channel Nine’sToday Showcrew.
Presenter Stevie Jacobs handed Ms Jones $10,000 to help her rebuild, and Keegan was also given $10,000.
“I’m still in shock, I’m speechless,” Ms Jones said.
“I’m amazed at their generosity and the fact that they came here knocking on the pub door to tell me.
“I’m also so thankful for the generosity of the Dungog community.”
Her friend Nicole Lancaster contacted the show after it advertised a competition to help a deserving mum, and she kept the secret for almost a week.
“She is a wonderful person. I’m not sure how we became friends, but we have been friends for a long time,” Mrs Lancaster said.
Ms Jones wants to buy a house in Dungog that will not be touched by floodwater.
“In 2007 the water was knee deep in the house, and I said if it ever happens again, we will move,” she said.
“It’ll be sad that we won’t live across the road from Keegan any more, but at least we won’t have to go through anything like this again.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.