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Lesli’s house exploded

There’s something that you and I do every day, all day. We make decisions. That’s something that we literally do all day.

In fact, some sources say the average person makes 35,000 decisions every day. I don’t know how accurate that number is, but I’m sure it’s a lot. Most of them we don’t really even think about consciously. Which shoe to put on first, how much toothpaste to put on the toothbrush, which checkout line at the grocery store – those are all kind of subconscious.

The bigger decisions we do think about – what to have for lunch, what kind of car do I buy, those are more deliberate. You even make a choice about what podcast you want to listen to – and I’m happy to tell you right now, when you choose this podcast, you have made the right choice!

But what if you were suddenly in an emergency situation, and you didn’t know if you were going to make it out alive, and you were faced with making the decision of how you prefer to die?

That’s the spot Lesli found herself in one day. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and she’s been through a pretty incredible experience. She survived, thanks to a couple of men named Bill – one was her friend, and the other was a stranger. And you’re about to hear her tell me what happened.

Lesli's house
Lesli’s house, after the fire and flood

It was crazy enough that she was invited to Ellen’s show to talk about it.

And be sure to hang around til the end, because after our conversation I’ll have a sneak preview of the new bonus episode, Raw Audio #2, which are 911 audio stories and exclusive content, and it’s live and available right now for patrons of the podcast.

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Episode transcript (download transcript PDF):

Welcome to What Was That Like. I’m your host, Scott Johnson. This is a show where we talk to regular people – people just like you and people just like me – who have found themselves in an extremely unusual situation. We’ll hear their stories and get inside their head because we all want to know what was that like. More information about each episode at whatwasthatlike.com. Here we go.

 

There’s something that you and I do every day, all day. We make decisions. That’s something that we literally do all day.

 

In fact, some sources say the average person makes 35,000 decisions every day. I don’t know how accurate that number is, but I’m sure it’s a lot. Most of them we don’t really even think about consciously. Which shoe to put on first, how much toothpaste to put on the toothbrush, which checkout line at the grocery store – those are all kind of subconscious.

 

The bigger decisions we do think about – what to have for lunch, what kind of car do I buy, those are more deliberate. You even make a choice about what podcast you want to listen to – and I’m happy to tell you right now, this minute, you have made the right choice!

 

But what if you were suddenly in an emergency situation, and you didn’t know if you were going to make it out alive, and you were faced with making the decision of how you prefer to die?

 

That’s the spot Lesli found herself in one day. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and she’s been through a pretty incredible experience. She survived, thanks to a couple of men named Bill – one was her friend, and the other was a stranger. And you’re about to hear her tell me what happened.

 

And be sure to hang around til the end, because after our conversation I’ll have a sneak preview of the new bonus episode, Raw Audio #2, which are 911 audio stories and exclusive content, and it’s live and available right now for patrons of the podcast.

 

And right now, I hope you enjoy hearing the story of what happened to Lesli.

 

 

Scott

Who was home with you on the day this happened?

 

Lesli 

His name is Billy Heldenberg and has been a friend of mine for quite some time. He just happened to realize that there was a storm coming. I had a fax machine back in the day, so he came over to fax and then realized the rain started coming. He would stay with me and he ended up staying for three days.

 

Scott 

All right. So the serious rain had been going strong for, like, two days, right?

 

Lesli 

Right. They were told that there was a storm coming. The Corps of Engineers, the weather channel, and all that had been told that the storm would be staying and hovering over us for a couple of days. My understanding is that the Corps did not open the email promptly when it was sent – I’m not for sure of that but, in the congressional hearings and things along that line, that’s the way I understand it. It did flood Opryland, Opry Mills – which is the mall – the Grand Ole Opry. It totally took over the entire road, which is called Briley Parkway, which is how you get to all of these tourist attractions. That all happened on the third day. I believe it was about 17-20 inches of rain that stayed on top of us, and it rained and rained and rained. I was sitting outside on my back deck. Well, first of all, the home was a long home treated creosote – I had bought it 2 years prior. So if you take the backyard and visualize the backyard, it drops down to the river approximately 30-some feet. My deck is about 40 feet higher than the backyard. So you’re looking at a 70 feet rise in water. This took some time to happen. The water kept coming and the rain kept coming. I had a covered back porch. I was sitting there and counting the stairs as the water kept coming up to see how fast it was coming up. Billy and I would take turns counting the stairs, getting a little bit of rest, and trying to pay attention to the storm. The police officers did stop by the house. They walked out. They looked off of the deck and they said “Oh, you’ll be just fine” and they left.

 

Scott 

Famous last words, huh?

 

Lesli 

No doubt. And I was dog sitting my best friend’s little puppy. I had a dog who is a cockapoo – both of them were – and he was full grown and weighs about 25 pounds. Then, there was Billy and me. We were moving furniture up the stairs knowing that if the flood and the water would come into the bottom part of the house, we would be able to save some of the antiques and different things that I had. As we were working on that and still watching the water throughout the two days, the backyard then became an eddy. If your listeners don’t know what an eddy is, it’s a place on a river you can pull off of and is slower than the current. What happened was the river was running probably close to about 65 miles an hour. There were boats going by. There were docks going by. There were all kinds of items just flashing by the house and some of them would circle around in the backyard and then be kicked back out into the river. With my house becoming an eddy, it also took away a big chunk of land that was there that goes down to the river – thank God for the trees and the root systems or else I may have lost a lot more. It’s very, very important for anyone – if you’re living on any kind of water – to have trees and root systems so that it holds your bank together and it’s a saving grace – even if it’s a hackberry tree that is dropping all kinds of ugly and sticky stuff. The root system is very, very important to have.

 

Scott 

So during this time, obviously, it felt like an emergency situation. You weren’t going to work every day. You were at home just trying to make sure you got prepared for the worst.

 

Lesli 

Yes, I was. The main thing was I was trying to find a place that we could evacuate to. Well, in hindsight, Nashville had not even considered pets or anything along that line. There were no hotels that were taking pets. There was absolutely no place to go with these two dogs. They were throwing all of the dogs into a big cage of some sort – Rottweilers, Pitbulls, along with Chihuahuas. There were people that never got their dogs back because they were killed.

 

Scott 

What do you mean by a cage? Where was this cage?

 

Lesli 

I’m not exactly sure because I didn’t go there. I just know that I had a couple of friends and they were evacuating all of the guests from the Opryland Hotel. They were evacuating them to McGavock High School, which is on up McGavock which is the street where Opryland hotel is on. The high school is much higher and, of course, had multiple gymnasiums and a place for people to go. There were evacuating a couple of subdivisions down the street from me, which are at a lower elevation, but they weren’t coming to me to evacuate me or anything along that line.

 

Scott 

But you would have evacuated if there was a place that would have taken you with the dog.

 

Lesli

That’s correct.

 

Scott

Well, I’m with you on that. There’s no way I could evacuate and leave my dogs behind. That’s a tough spot to be in.

 

Lesli 

It’s a very tough spot to be in. The little puppy kept trying to jump off of the stairs and into the water, and I was grabbing it by one leg. I’m just so thankful I didn’t dislocate it.

 

Scott 

At that point, with the water rising, did you even have the option of driving away?

 

Lesli 

Not at one point. It came too quick. What was happening was it just kept raining, kept raining, kept raining. Across the street or across the river from me is a place called Inglewood, and it is a gigantic, huge limestone bank – very, very high. So, when they eventually let the waters out from the dam that acted as a third dam, that’s what pushed all the water over the whole deck and everything. I had catfishes that were trying to jump onto my deck. As you know, if we were fishermen or whatever, catfish like ledges. They like to hide underneath ledges. So, they are hiding underneath my deck and trying to get up on to the deck, and that was very odd. At that point in time, it had rained for 2 days, as I stated. Then, on the third day, there were beautiful blue skies – everything was beautiful – and we thought it had stopped. So, at that point in time, the water was in my garage, so the damage was done in the garage.

 

Scott 

If you walked into the garage, how high up was it? Was it over your knees?

 

Lesli 

The garage had, like, 4-5 steps down to be level with the ground. At first, it was just barely into the garage. On the third day, as we had been watching the weather channel, I was watching and watching and what we didn’t realize is that we had been up for 42 hours just so worried and so concerned. We were watching the same report, pretty much. They did not notify any of us that they were going to let these dams out. We live in a place that’s a peninsula right there off of McGavock and it’s called Two Rivers. The reason it’s called Two Rivers is that you have the Stones River that meets the Cumberland River. The Stones River feeds Percy Priest, which is a landlocked lake that was there. Then you have Old Hickory Lake, which is fed by many other rivers. You can take the Cumberland River – which is outside my house which I live on – walk through all the way down, and get all the way to the Gulf. So it is patrolled by the Coast Guard. It’s like a 90-mile river, but it is controlled by the Coast Guard. On that third day, which was May 3, it was probably around 6-7 o’clock in the morning, maybe, when they decided that they were going to let both of the dams out at the same time. There is another dam that is way upstream on the Cumberland which is called Wolf Creek. If the Wolf Creek Dam would have broken, all of Nashville would have been underwater. So they took us as collateral damage and let both rivers out. When that happened, a huge major wave just came down the river – something that you would never ever expect to see on a river – and that brought the water all the way up and over onto the back porch.

 

Scott 

And what was the height of the back porch again?

 

Lesli 

It’s like 40 feet from the backyard. Then, from the backyard down to the river is 30 feet. So it all came up about right at 70 feet.

 

Scott 

70 feet from water level.

 

Lesli 

That’s a seven-story building. When that happened, we were running in and, again, moving a few other things up. What we thought happened is the gentleman who owned the log home in which I was living at the time – treated by creosote – we believe the water came up underneath the garage, raised the car up, and then the car hit a gas line. The gentleman who lived in the house prior to me was a tinkerer. He pulled engines and things out of cars and had a big steel beam across the back. I had lived in that house for two years and never ever realized that it was an old heater like you would find in a hotel room – it was like an in-the-wall heater – and it was just there for him to turn on in the wintertime to keep himself warm. I never knew that the gas to that heater was on – it was on for two years. I never even knew it was on. So we believe that the water pit went underneath the garage, picked the car up, and then the car was moved forward and snapped that gasline. Then, as the water continued to come in, hit an electrical outlet, and blew the garage off of the house while we were moving all of the furniture and different things upstairs, this gigantic car blew. We didn’t know what it was. We grabbed fire extinguishers, opened the door into the garage, and the water was up to the fourth step – almost to the little deck that the door walked out of. We grabbed the fire extinguishers and we went into the water. The water could have been electrically hot. We weren’t thinking of that. We were thinking of flood and not fire. Who’s thinking of fire in the middle of being surrounded by nothing but water? I mean, it looked like an island. I had no grass – nothing. There was just fire on the water.

 

Scott 

Did you still have electricity in the house at this time?

 

Lesli

Yeah.

 

Scott

You could have been immediately electrocuted when you step into the water.

 

Lesli 

I never once even thought about that, which is a lesson that people need to learn as well. We went into the water, emptied 3 fire extinguishers, and postponed it. Again, it was an old log cabin treated in creosote, which is a fire instigator.

 

Scott 

So the garage was on fire and you tried to put it out, but you weren’t able to put it out completely…

 

Lesli 

No, we couldn’t put it out completely. We ran into the house and then ran out onto the front porch. The front porch was there. Helicopters were above us. They’re flying above us – all kinds of media helicopters. I was yelling on 911, “Please send me a boat!” “We have no boats.” I was like, “You have a boat dock right down the street and a fire station up the street. Where are the boats?” “We have no boats. We cannot rescue you. Whatever you do, don’t get in the water. Get blankets. Because of the undertow, you will drown. Put the blankets into the water, get them as wet as possible, and throw them over you so that if the house blows up, you won’t burn to death.”

 

Well, at that point in time, I was very very angry at 911 and I was like, “If I’m on the front porch when this house blows up, I’m going to end up in the water anyway with a heavy blanket over me – probably knocked out – and it’s going to drown me anyway.” So I was throwing the phone from 911, saying, “You’re not helping me!”

 

Well, they called me back and were like, “Do you burn? Do you drown?” Well, if you’ve ever been into a burn unit, the last thing you want to do is burn. God rest their souls and the people who have to be there. So I was going for the water. If that’s the case, I’m going into the water.

 

Then, they called back, “Calm down. I’m asking them to bring down a helicopter with a ladder.”

 

“Can you just bring a helicopter down with a floating ladder where I could do a Jamie Lee Curtis hanging on to the ladder and fly away?”

 

“We can’t do that.”

 

All of a sudden I look up and here comes a gentleman on a jetski. I was yelling, “Jetski! Jetski!” and 911 was like “Jetski?”

 

“Sir, please, can you come over?” He came over, took a look, and said, “We have to get the hell out of here now. Your house is on fire and it is bad.”

 

Scott 

So was this guy emergency personnel? Who was this?

 

Lesli 

He was a neighbor from down the street whom I’d never met. He’s a locksmith. He was trying all of the other jetskis. Other people who had boats that were on trailers were heading to Opryland to try to get the guests out to try to save those people. He, in turn, felt in his heart that he needed to come the other way. He calls it divine intervention – and my Lord, something was there – and he ended up coming up to the house and was like, “You got to get on the jetski!” Well, there he was. It’s a winterized old jetski, so it’s got water in it.

 

He weighs over 200 pounds. My friend, Billy, who has been helping me these 3 days weighs around the same amount. I weigh around 160 pounds. Then, we got a 25-pound dog and a 10-pound dog. So we all load up on this jetski. He tried to start it once. He tried to start it a second time, but it was not starting. He started it the third time and the front end of the jetski goes up in the air. We were so weighted down. We were not going anywhere. We got away from the front porch and we got onto the street, which is not very far – I’d say maybe 10-15 feet – and then KABOOM! The whole house blew. My hair caught on fire. I’ve got the dog. He was trying to hold on. None of us could breathe because the oxygen was feeding the fire. Things were blowing past the house and everything else.

 

Now, I need to stop for a second, Scott, because I want to tell you another part of the story. When he came on the jetski, I had 2 backpacks and a purse that was outside. One was full of all of my jewelry from my great aunt, my great grandmother, my mother who was deceased, all of my belongings, all of my medical cards, driver’s license, and everything else. I had another backpack that was full of dog food, leashes, and all the other things. I could only take one and I chose to take the dog food because I did not know when my babies would be able to eat again.

 

Scott

Good for you.

 

Lesli

Now, back to when the house blew up, big old logs were flying by. The spikes that they put into long homes are very long, and they’re flying by. We couldn’t breathe. We were trying to breathe. Then, all of a sudden, there was, like, the eye of the storm and we could breathe. The next thing we knew, we were hit again by the backdraft through the other direction. We were still all able to stay on the jetski. I was saying, “Barbed wire fences on the left. Mailboxes on the right.” We were trying to go straight down the street. I was in shock, of course, at this point. We traveled a half a mile or so on the jetski down to where there’s a hairpin curve, and we got up close to a hotel which had just been built there. The firemen would not allow us to go any further than that, so we had to get off of the jetski. Bill Crousser did not since he owned the jetski. We had to get out – there was no other way. They would not allow him to come any further.

 

They didn’t know if there were cars in the ditches. They didn’t know what kind of debris was on either side, so we ended up doing what you call – or what I learned – the stingray shuffle. When you’re in the ocean, you’re shuffling along so that you wouldn’t fall off into a ditch and get caught in the undertow. Billy was carrying one dog. I was carrying the other dog with the backpack. The firemen were like, “Come on Lesli. You can make it.” We got there and they had a complete walkway that walks through the check-in area of the hotel. Across another parking lot, they had an ambulance that was sitting up on the hill. My heart rate was at 199. They were afraid I was going to stroke. I was going to have a heart attack. I was 50 years old at that time. I got into the ambulance and they’re backed up. So I was watching my house burn with the creosote oil and all the log. It was a very, very black, black fire, and very, very orange. Huge. You can see it for miles, and it was something else.

 

They could not get me all of my records and everything. We were at Vanderbilt. There was no way they could get me there – the road was completely flooded – so they took me to a hospital, which is not far from here, called Skyline. I went in. At Skyline, they were not willing to work with me because I didn’t have a health card, I didn’t have any identification, I had nothing. Billy had the dogs and they were watching, I think, “The Price Is Right” or something on TV. They turned it to Channel Four, to WSMV, and they were focusing on my house on fire. Billy was saying, “That is her! That’s her back in the room. Please take care of my friend.” Well, they came in. I had called my attorney prior to the gentleman on the jetski to say, “Please take care of my property and pass it along to my brother.” I mean, I was prepared to die.

 

Scott 

That’s part of what makes this story so fascinating. You were working on getting furniture moved upstairs so that it doesn’t get damaged. But then, just a short time after that, you were deciding, “Do I want to die by fire or by drowning?” How do you keep your head straight when that was going through your mind?

 

Lesli 

I wish I could answer that question. I was just focusing on survival. It was survival instincts. Everything was going in slow motion. I mean, when you’re put under that much pressure, things move very slowly. Things were happening. Whatever you’re saying, I hardly even remember. I just know that I instantly picked up the dog backpack – I didn’t grab mine – and I was holding on for dear life. The explosion was so loud. Then, there was no breath to be taken. Then, you could breathe. Then, all of a sudden, you couldn’t breathe again because of the backdraft. Half a mile ride down the road just seemed like hours to get to. We got to the hospital. There, they were. When they realized that I was the one whose house had just blown up that had been surrounded by water, they started asking me all of these questions and giving me oxygen to bring my blood pressure and everything down. My attorney met me there. I called him in enough advance. He had been able to go around and come back in another way. He is like my best friend. He’s like a brother.

 

Then, they tried to give me a shot of Ativan that would calm my heart down, but it shot the needle right out of my hand and clear across the room that I was in. The nurse said, “Well, honey, you blew that one up.” My attorney said, “Bad choice of words, ma’am.” My mother and my father always taught me to try to find humor in every situation, so there was laughter there and everything. Then, they cut all my clothes off me. Then, they put me in paper scrubs – in a flood, I was put in paper scrubs. That’s all I had left. I had no clothing, no anything.

 

So Rusty was able to eventually get to my pharmacy to get the prescription to try to calm me down and get to his house over on the other side of town – that’s where I stayed along with Billy for a couple of weeks. Many people were so kind to me. They brought me clothes. They brought me jewelry. They brought me things to make me feel good. I mean, all I said was when I walked into Rusty’s house, there were multiple people there that were all looking at me, like, just in shock and all I could say was, “Does anyone have a toothbrush?” They all broke down and started crying. All I wanted to do was brush my teeth and feel better about myself or something.

 

So Rusty put me to bed, took my phone away from me, and redid the message to let everyone know I was alive and I was okay so that they wouldn’t continue to call. When I got up every couple of hours, I got 5 minutes on the phone to call, like, my family, my father, and people along that line. He was alive at that time, but my mother was not – my grandmother was as well. I was able to talk to them. Then, he took the phone away from me again. So we started working through it that way. The next thing I knew, Channel Four had called me. The reason Nashville did not get a lot of attention when this flood happened was that it was the exact same time as the oil spill was in the Gulf, so everybody focused on the Gulf. There were 23 lives that were lost in this flood in Nashville, but very few people knew that. There’s a reason why Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State – because it took 2 weeks before I was able to come back to my house for the water to come down.

 

Scott 

Did you have any idea what to expect when you come back?

 

Lesli  

I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I was calling Bill Crousser on the jetski, “You’re my angel on the jetski.” When I got back to the house a couple of weeks later, it looked like a redneck JFK Memorial. I had one pipe that was still up shooting flames – the gas had not been turned off – and one pipe that was just shooting water out. Then, all of my Christmas decorations and everything had been in the garage. The whole part of the garage – the foundation – had been underwater, so it did not catch on fire. The joy spurt halfway down and, then, what was underwater, of course, did not burn. There were angels all over the floor of my garage. There was a reason why I was saved – I’m not exactly sure why, Scott, but I try to do something good every day. I try to help someone out and make a call and check on people every day. I don’t know why, but I’m so blessed.

 

Scott 

was anything recoverable at all from the house? I mean, I assume your car was in the garage, right?

 

Lesli 

That car was in the garage and it had blown up. Plus, the I-beam – there were a couple of I-beams in that log home – had melted and crumbled. We were trying to figure out what was that because everything fell from the second floor, of course, when it blew up. That was the bed. Well, that was the desk on top of the bed. You can see the refrigerator because the coils were still there. The I-beams themselves had completely been melted because the fire was so hot and there was an explosion. That’s what happened.

 

Scott 

At that point, when you were looking at this and seeing that everything was gone, obviously, you’re not going to repair the house. It’s got to be leveled and rebuilt. Is that what happened?

 

Lesli 

Well, FEMA came in and decided to buy a lot of the lots that were down here because there were homes that were completely ruined and people couldn’t afford to build them back. I was not going to go anywhere. I love where I lived. It reminds me of the country where I’m from up in northwest Missouri – turkey, deer, beautiful birds, moving water, and all kinds of things which bring power to the soul – so I wanted to stay. Eventually – getting flood water or stormwater – I spoke with FEMA. Because my home had blown up and it wasn’t just a flood, they allowed me to build back on the same foundation. However, it took a year and a half or so for them to rewrite all of the codes on how to build back after catastrophes such as that. So there were lots of political things going back and forth. Other people were able to fix their homes and were able to get things done. If my home hadn’t blown up, I would probably have to replace the HVAC unit and everything in the garage, and that would have the difference – that’s what my neighbors ended up doing and all of that. It was nothing but rubble. The only thing standing was the fireplace.

 

Scott 

I’ve seen that picture. We’ll have pictures on the website for this episode so that people can see what it looks like after the explosion and fire. Where did you live while the house was uninhabitable while being rebuilt?

 

Lesli 

Well, I had what they call “The Triple Triad” with State Farm – I had car insurance, I had homeowners insurance, and I had flood insurance with them. With all of this and working it all out, I was able to move into a condominium up the street. Jeannie Seely – who was a member of the Grand Ole Opry – and her sister had a condo that was vacant up there and she had been affected too in the flood, but not to the tune of an explosion. State Farm rented that for me for 2 years. They brought me shower curtains, they brought me Tupperware, they brought me dishes, TV, living room furniture, they brought me everything I possibly needed, and then furnished this condominium for me for 2 years. Once the 2 years were up, my home wasn’t quite finished yet because they were required to put what’s called smart vents into the house, and there were only a couple of places in the world that made them at that time. They are automatically made to shut down if there is a flood so that the water can’t get underneath the house to lift it off of the foundation and go in. State Farm did everything back and I was not to move into the house until those smart vents got there. Well, being the rebel that I am, I moved into the house. I was waiting on the vents and I kept the garage door closed – there were no cars or anything like that – until the vents came in. Then, the final evaluation, I guess, came in and that gave me the right to move into that.

 

Scott 

You had to sneak back into your own house.

 

Lesli 

I did. I did that. Throughout that time period and those years, I was going to estate sales and I was buying something to keep my mind occupied. I worked all the way through it, but I did get psychiatric care and I still am under psychiatric care – I believe that I will be for the rest of my life – and I find it extremely positive and wonderful especially in times like today and what’s happening today. I’ve always said if I ever win the lottery, none of my friends is gonna get money, but they’re all gonna get psychiatric care for the rest of their lives.

 

Scott 

That’s different. At what point did you and Bill, the jetski guy, go on to the Ellen show?

 

Lesli 

Well, when I did the interview at WSMV with a gentleman by the name of Dennis Ferrier who’s no longer with Channel Four this time. Some people had brought me clothes so I had some clothes to wear. I went out there and I did the interview with them. Then CBS and NBC, I believe, picked up the interview and they ended up using it in a loop for, like, three days and it ran every 20 minutes for three days. I had friends calling me from New Zealand and Spain, and they were catching it all there. “This is incredible. Are you fine? Are you all right?” Well, that’s where I believe that the producers of Ellen got a hold of it. The reason was that I took the backpack for the dogs. I believe that was the main thing. They are babies. If we don’t have children, they are babies. If your babies are grown and they now have their own families, we would still have our babies. They are our babies. They are dogs. It’s so important to have those.

 

Scott 

I’m with you on that. Yeah, we have a couple of little Yorkies. Yes, our kids are grown and everything, but that’s our family now. And Ellen obviously is a huge animal lover as well.

 

Lesli 

Exactly. She flew us out there and we stayed at a very, very nice hotel. I had them upgrade my angel on the jetski to a suite, and he stayed in a suite that was decorated like Shrek – like a movie set. I’ll never forget him calling me and saying, “Lesli, you have to come up here and knock on the door because this was done so well. I can’t even find the door to get out of the room.” He was extremely nervous, as you know, and he hadn’t flown in forever. We went out there and we did the interview. I was all prepared to dance when I was gonna walk in and all that, but they brought us through the back way and I couldn’t quite figure that out at the time. Then, we did the interview.

 

Quaker Oats was a sponsor at that time and Quaker Oats gave me $25,000 to help me with the rebuilding of the home. My main concern was to get my angel a new jetski – he needed a new jetski. I had already made a couple of calls. If Ellen didn’t do it, somebody was going to do it. I was going to make sure he was gonna get a new jetski. Then, I ended up with dog food for a year for the babies and he ended up with a new jetski and a new trailer. The next thing I knew, I had a brand new GMC Terrain and he had a brand new truck. She picked up all of the taxes and everything. I mean, what an incredible woman she is! She means it when she says, “Be kind to one another.” Her mother was fabulous. Her staff was fabulous. I will tell you, Scott, I don’t really, really remember a lot of it. I am a broadcast major, so I just went right on through it. When I watched it, I looked at it and went, “How did I keep it together so well? How did I do it?” How did I keep my head together? I don’t know. I reached deep down into my soul.

 

Scott 

And you didn’t even know him prior to this, right?

 

Lesli 

I had no clue who he was.

 

Scott 

Isn’t it interesting how life events can bring people together?

 

Lesli 

Oh my Lord, it certainly is. Then, you have survival guilt. Why was I saved and the others taken? What am I supposed to do? Please show me a path and show me what I’m supposed to do. So, for 10 years, I’ve just been trying to be a nice human being and to do what I can to help.

 

Scott 

Maybe that is what you’re supposed to do.

 

Lesli 

Maybe it is – one life at a time.

 

Scott 

Is there any one big thing you learned from this whole experience?

 

Lesli 

Please don’t mess with Mother Nature. Mother Nature means business. When something like this happens – if you see water across the road, you never know how deep it is – you never know how dangerous it is. Please pay attention when it says, “Don’t drive.” Don’t do it. I would never have gotten into the water if it weren’t for the choice of, “Am I gonna burn or am I gonna drown?” I wasn’t going to burn – it didn’t take me about a second to make that decision. Please pay attention to Mother Nature – she means business. It doesn’t take a lot of water to move a car. It doesn’t take a lot of water to move a human being into a very dangerous area to be caught underneath a rock or debris or whatever it is. And help others.

 

Scott 

Good lessons to learn, for sure. We’re gonna have, like I said, pictures of all this as well as the video of your appearance on Ellen on the website for this episode so that people can watch that. Boy, I’m glad you survived. Thanks for sharing your story!

 

Lesli 

You’re welcome. Thank you. I hope your audience gets a little bit of entertainment from it, understand that it was one hell of an experience and that will never ever, ever leave my mind, and I’m so thankful and so blessed.

 

Scott 

Pretty exciting story, right?

I mean, how often do you get rescued on a jetski, and then your house explodes and your hair catches on fire? Can’t make this stuff up. And I’d like to thank my friend David Hooper for connecting me with Lesli. David is a fellow podcaster, he’s worked in the radio industry for a long time, and he has a marketing podcast called RED – the Marketing Podcast for Experts. You can check that out at redpodcast.com.

 

And if you liked today’s crazy story, you’re gonna love the new episode of Raw Audio, which is live right now. Raw Audio is my ongoing series of bonus episodes, available to Patreon subscribers at the $5 level or above.

 

Raw Audio #2 includes stories about a man who called 911 after he and his wife had a fight…

 

911 Operator

Stay on the phone.

 

Man

She doesn’t look good. I don’t know what I should do for.

 

Scott

A man who called 911 because his girlfriend was not breathing…

 

911 Operator

Listen to me, do you want to continue CPR?

 

Man

What do you want me to do? Tell me what to do!

 

Scott

And a woman who was stuck in her car in during a sudden flash flood…

 

Woman

Boys, please hurry…

 

911 Operator

Ma’am, listen to me. I understand. Hold on for me.

 

Woman

Ma’am, they’re just going to let me die. (sobbing)

 

911 Operator

They’re not gonna let you die.

 

Woman

Ma’am, I don’t wanna die. I’m sorry but I don’t want to die today. (sobbing)

 

Scott

You can hear the full details of what was happening, as well as the full 911 audio, and how that story ended up, by becoming a patron for $5 per month. You can do that at WhatWasThatLike.com/support.

 

Not to mention the fact that you’ll be supporting this podcast, and I really appreciate that. I love finding these stories and bringing them to you, and of course this show will always be free. But if you’d like to support the podcast AND get all the other bonus episodes of Raw Audio – that means the ones that are live now, and all the ones that will be coming out in the future – just sign up at WhatWasThatLike.com/support.

 

Thanks again for listening, and I’ll see you in two weeks.