ORLANDO, Fla. – We’ve seen many examples of kindness after Hurricane Ian. Everything from donations, to assisting with cleanup, to kind words to make someone’s day better.
In this case, it’s a video game that led to one man taking matters into his own hands, and rescuing a woman he’d never met.
“I was sitting in my chair reading and listening to a CD and the hurricane was going on outside. All of a sudden I heard a boom. I looked up and the ceiling was on me,” said 79-year-old Laurel Brown.
Hurricane Ian’s strong winds blew off part of the roof, causing the ceiling panels and insulation to bury Brown while she was on the couch. Brown was able to maneuver onto the floor as rain started to flood her apartment at Presbyterian Homes in Port Charlotte Wednesday.
“I got up, slipped and fell down. I was sitting in water. It was all surreal,” Brown said.
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Brown managed to grab her phone, trying to contact family, sending videos and photos.
“My daughter, she was the only one I could get ahold of… in Texas,” Brown said. “I sent her the photo of the ceiling on top of the couch and she said ‘Which chair were you in?’ I said, ‘The one with all the ceiling.’ She said ‘I was afraid of that.’”
During the ordeal, Brown’s 14-year-old Chihuahua, Sweet Pea, got spooked and ran into the other room, according to Brown, getting caught in a door that got slammed due to strong winds. Brown was able to grab the dog who was severely injured.
Brown said a neighbor invited her into his apartment to wait out the storm. Calling 911 was not an option at this point as Ian slammed the area.
“Our police officers had been taken off the roads due to the hurricane so we knew we couldn’t get help that way,” Brown said.
Meantime, nearly 200 miles away in Orlando, Bill Feyh, 53, is chatting with his friends through a gaming system.
“My friend Carl pops in and says ‘My grandmother’s in this situation’ and shortly after, he sends me a picture and I’m thinking ‘Is anyone going to help her,’” Feyh said.
Keep in mind, Feyh has never actually met Brown’s grandson, Carl, in person. They became friends online.
“I didn’t think twice. I got in my car and did something,” Feyh said.
Driving to Port Charlotte in the middle of a hurricane.
“It’s like blackout snow. It’s blinding. You literally couldn’t see more than a few feet outside the car,” Feyh said. “I’m driving in winds that are like 90 to 100 miles per hour. I’m literally a pond rock skipping across, but I maintained control of the car.”
Nearly three hours later, Feyh makes it to Brown’s apartment complex. He grabbed some of her medication from her apartment and some clothes, getting Brown back to his Orlando home safely.
“I got a big black and blue bruise from the door when I tried to open it. A couple of scrapes on my knees,” Brown said.
Brown’s dog died from his injuries when they arrived to Orlando.
For over a week, Feyh and his mother welcomed Brown into their home. Treating her like family. Brown’s home is now condemned, leaving her with no place to go.
“I have a feeling of relief. I was so shook that it took me two to three days to get my brain back again. I feel so blessed to have my life, my family and Bill all working to help me,” Brown said.
Feyh said he doesn’t consider himself a hero and wants to encourage everyone to find it in their hearts to help someone if they’re able.
“It doesn’t have to be to my extreme. If you do one good deed — random acts of kindness — it never hurts and always makes the world a better place,” Feyh said.
“I’m so blessed and thankful that there are people like that. Proving they’re out there, showing the good,” Brown said.
Brown’s family is driving down from Texas to get her until she finds a new place to live.
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