Day, a former coal miner who lives in Hindman, Knott County, said he was unaware of what was happening in the area until he received the message that the children needed help getting out of their homes.
“I didn’t know what they were talking about, so I walked out,” Day told CNN. “You heard a lot of people screaming and begging for someone’s help.”
Day and his wife, Krystal, didn’t have a boat, so they waded through the water to help rescue the five children and two mothers who were stuck on the roof of their home.
“At 3 a.m. I was in this water with my wife. I put a child under each arm and one around my neck and took them home. The oldest child was holding a small dog ,” Day said.
After Day and his wife rescued the children and the two women, he set his sights on rescuing his former high school English teacher, Ella Prater, and his second-grade teacher, Irma Gayheart, who were all living two nearby.
“I just kept pacing because I saw the water rising and I knew my two old teachers were probably trapped in their homes,” Day said. “It was heartbreaking.”
He then enlisted the help of three other neighbors to help check on his teachers, who both live alone, according to Day.
When they saw Prater, Day said they held her “by both sides of her arms and never looked back. We said, ‘We have to go.’ “”
It took Gayheart a few minutes to answer the door, but when she did, she told him she was fine, but was sitting on her kitchen counter staring at the water ascend.
“I wasn’t going to leave her there because she’s a special woman to me. You could tell by looking at her face that she was exhausted,” Day said. “She spent the night on the kitchen counter and the water had come up near the counter.”
With the help of her neighbors, Day was able to reunite the two teachers with their families, who were awaiting updates on their whereabouts.
“They are two of the most special women you will meet in your life, and when they show you love, they show you true love. my life,” Day said. explaining why he risked his life to save his teachers.
The ordeal has been emotionally draining, but he’s glad the kids and former teachers are safe, Day told CNN.