MANITOU SRINGS, Colo. - A woman who survived being swept away by the flash flooding in Manitou Springs Friday says she was determined to live.
"OK, I'm going to get out of this. I'm going to survive this," Laura Hunter said she was thinking as the muddy water sent her rushing down Canon Ave. "I don't think I once thought, 'Shoot, this is the end.' I was just OK, I'm going to get out of this. And thank God for that tree."
Hunter, 49, was able to grab on to a tree and pull herself to safety, even with a broken foot. Perhaps more incredible, her small cottage was uprooted and swept away behind her. She lost everything, including her two cats, Sally and Wiggles who she said were like her kids.
"I really, really never would have anticipated this," said Hunter tearfully from Penrose Hospital Monday. "My cottage was on a concrete slab, with concrete, I think, built up a little bit around it. So I thought, 'Oh shoot, there's no way it's going to take my cottage out.'"
The floating cottage was captured on video by Hunter's neighbor, along with the fierce water Hunter was trapped in. She said it felt like being knocked down by a wave in the ocean, just hoping to eventually come up for air.
With her home and pets gone and street in shambles, she's staying positive and says she wants to continue to live in Manitou.
"My long term goals are just to be really grateful for my life," she said. "And I want to form healthy relationships. That's the most important thing to me now. Everything I lost can be replaced."
She said a volunteer firefighter found her backpack with her ID and credit cards floating in the debris. He returned those cards to her along with a new backpack and wallet with some money in it, something Hunter called a "blessing."
Hunter's friend, whose home was damaged by flooding, told us that she's concerned about where Hunter will go after leaving the hospital because right now, she doesn't have any place to stay and did not have renter's insurance.
Hunter said she could be out of the hospital as early as Tuesday.