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Overcoming remnants of Hurricane Ida

Published on September 2nd, 2021

Griffin Gigliotti had been competing among 190 teams at the 2021 29er World Championship, and was returning to the USA from the racing on August 26-31 in Valencia, Spain. After overcoming all the obstacles of competition, there was one more hurdle to clear as detailed in this report by the Wall Street Journal:

Griffin Gigliotti, an 18-year-old high-school senior, and his father Greg Gigliotti were headed home to Norwalk, Conn., from John F. Kennedy International Airport when they were forced to escape a Chevy Suburban rapidly taking on water during flash-flooding in the Northeast caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

Late on September 1, their ride-hail driver exited congested Interstate 95 and wound up on a residential street in Larchmont, N.Y., where a normally placid brook had become a raging river that flooded nearby roads.

The rising waters swept up the Suburban and jammed it against a fire hydrant, and soon water began seeping through the Suburban’s floorboards. As it rose higher and higher, the outcome became clear. “Griffin, we gotta ditch,” the son recalled his father saying.

Father and son had their sailing gear and began filling their waterproof backpacks with passports, wallets, laptops, phones and other valuables, sealing them shut with electrical tape. The pair handed one of two life jackets they had to the driver Sohail Mian, 56, who said he couldn’t swim, tying a rope to the driver’s lifejacket.

At a nearby house, Michael Keating and his family spotted the Suburban and could see the light of the cellphones inside it. “We were yelling, ‘Are you OK? Are you OK?’ They said, ‘No, we’re not; we need help’,” Mr. Keating, 48, recounted.

The water had risen above the steering wheel when they fled through the truck’s open windows, said Griffin Gigliotti. He said he put on the other life jacket, climbed onto the Suburban’s roof and plunged into the murky water. Father and son swam to the Keating home, guiding the driver through water around 5 feet deep.

It was “the ultimate father-son bonding experience,” said Griffin Gigliotti, though reflecting on the storm that killed 51 in the Northeast. “Things could have gone very, very differently.”

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