The night that Hurricane Sandy unleashed its fury on the East Coast, 42-year-old driver Sean Davis just wanted to get his load of toilet paper delivered to Industrial Highway in Carteret, New Jersey.
At approximately 7:00 p.m., Davis drove near State Street in the Sewaren section of Woodbridge. Suddenly, four feet of dark water encircled Davis’s truck, causing it to stall.
“The water just came up into the cab of the truck,” Davis told NJ.com.
Davis told NJ.com that he could hear transformers exploding around him.
He called 911, but hundreds of emergency calls were flooding the lines. The dispatcher told Davis that it might be some time before emergency personnel could reach him.
NJ.com reported, “By 7:44 p.m., the whole north side of Seaside Heights was underwater, according to that community’s police chief.”
By the time Davis got off the phone with 911, water was filling the inside of his cab.
“I had to get out of there,” he said. “It was either get out or drown in there.”
Davis kicked open the truck’s door and climbed out into the chest-high churning, murky water. He left all of his belongings behind and swam toward safety.
“It was pitch black and I couldn’t see a thing,” he told NJ.com. “And the water kept rising. It got into my mouth. It was salty and nasty.”
As Davis made it toward a bridge and dry land, he could see a pickup truck waiting.
“The man asked me if I had seen the person in the water and I told him, ‘That was me,’” Davis said.
Davis made his way to a shelter where 160 others had sought refuge. He spent the night in his wet clothes, but he was safe.
Davis was at the shelter for two days before getting a ride to the Western Express Inc. terminal in Elizabeth.
The Vice President of Risk Management told NJ.com that it had been Davis’ decision to drive that night.
When he arrived at the terminal, Davis was issued another truck.
“They’re not too happy with me,” Davis said. “But I’m still working. I’m still doing what I do.”
Story told to Anthony G. Attrino at NJ.com