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Aug 12, 2013 10:57 PM by Zach Thaxton

Injured woman rescued from flooding tells her story

Laura Hunter says she never thought about dying as waters filled with mud, ash, and debris slammed into her home and swept her down her street at 30 miles per hour.  "I just thought, okay, how am I going to get out of this," she said.  Hunter narrowly survived the flash flooding in Manitou Springs last Friday by instinctively grabbing hold of a tree as she was swept away.

Hunter addressed media from across the state Monday afternoon from a small room at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, where she is recovering from a fractured leg and broken foot, injuries sustained in her ordeal.

Hunter says she was in the living room of her small cottage on Canon Avenue early Friday evening when "All of a sudden, water starts pouring into my living room window."  Hunter had opted to remain in her cottage even after the devastation of the flash flood on July 1 that destroyed the home of her best friend Joy and several others along the same street.  Friday, her home was hit.

As water quickly filled her cottage, Hunter tried to cross Canon Avenue to get to safety, but was swept from her feet by the torrent of rushing water and debris.  Blinded by the mud and ash and disoriented from the speed at which she was being swept away, Hunter acted primarily on instinct as she rapidly approached a tree along the side of Canon Avenue.  "I thought, I'm going to grab that tree and then I'm going to pull myself out," Hunter said.  "So that's exactly what I did -- I straddled that tree, pulled myself out, flung myself onto the embankment, and then proceeded to just crawl up to higher ground."

Passersby spotted Hunter and helped bring her to safety, but the violence of the ordeal left her with a fractured leg and broken foot.  She has been hospitalized at Penrose Hospital ever since, but is expected to be released Tuesday.  Hunter, a former body surfer, related the experience to riding the waves in Southern California.  "It's like when you're catching a wave, but not the good kind of wave," she said.  "You're catching the kind of wave that goes up and then slams you down."

Hunter became emotional when describing her two cats, Sally and Wiggles, likely killed in the flooding.  She also welled with tears when describing the kindness of strangers who have come to her aid amid her ordeal.  Hunter, 49, says her short-term plan is to move to California to be closer to her mother and brother.  "My long-term goals are to just be really grateful for my life," she added.

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