Tennessee mom puts baby atop kitchen cabinet to save her from floodwaters

WAVERLY, Tenn. — As floodwaters rose to her calves Saturday, a Tennessee mother did the only thing possible to save her 4-month-old daughter by putting her child on top of a kitchen cabinet.

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Vanessa Yates, of Waverly, was one of the thousands of Middle Tennessee residents impacted by devastating floods that caused the deaths of 22 people and left dozens missing.

Yates said she woke up at 9 a.m. CDT and the water was already pouring into her home, located about 80 miles west of Nashville.

“In just a short amount of time, I don’t know how long it was, but it felt like it wasn’t long,” Yates told WKRN. “The water continued to rise, and it got very high very quickly.”

When the water level reached her chest, Yates ran to the kitchen.

“I went and got on the kitchen counter, and I put her as far as I could in the top cabinet,” Yates told the television station. “I just stood on the top of the kitchen counter.”

>> Tennessee flooding: At least 22 dead, dozens missing after record-shattering rainfall

Anthony Yates told WKRN he left for work at 5 a.m. when it was beginning to rain. Several hours later he received a frantic telephone call.

“I started driving out back towards home. The road between the town, Waverly, and the next one over, McEwen, it was completely washed away,” Anthony Yates told the television station. “I ended up ditching my car and walked along the railroad tracks the rest of the way into town just to look for her and the baby.”

Between 8 and 12 inches of rain fell in parts of middle Tennessee, including the Nashville metropolitan area, over the weekend, The Tennessean reported. Up to 14.5 inches fell in Humphreys County, causing flooded roads, the newspaper reported.

As the rain fell, Vanessa Yates vowed to keep her daughter safe.

“I thought, before I got onto the counter, I for sure thought we were going to drown,” she told WKRN. “Me and my baby wouldn’t make it.”

Family members posted about Vanessa Yates’ situation and her brother-in-law, Alan Wallace, maneuvered his kayak to the house and brought them out, CNN reported.

“My brother-in-law took a kayak until he was able to reach these other two guys,” Vanessa Yates told WKRN. “Everybody was searching for us. People had called 911 multiple times. It was by the grace of God that they found us. They got to the door and they were getting us out.”

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Wallace posted a video as he waded through chest-deep water, CNN reported. “If I die and don’t make it, I tried. I love y’all,” Wallace said in the video.

Anthony Yates, meanwhile, managed to get a ride to his house but only found his dog. He rescued the animal and began searching around town until he received a text from Wallace, the television station reported.

“He had apparently managed to touch base with her at some point and found out that she and the baby were at the hospital,” Anthony Yates told the television station. “They gave me a lift there and oh my gosh, Vanessa had not only reunited with her brother-in-law but with her dad. Of course, she had the baby, and they were saved. I broke down crying.”

Vanessa Yates was equally grateful.

All I was doing was begging God to make the rain stop. The house next to us was on fire, and I just wanted out of there so bad,” she told WKRN. “I am just so thankful that they came and got us. I was just so relieved.”