The Courys: 'God's Hand Was There'
By Audra Smith
The 700 Club
Original Air Date: September 14, 2010
On May 1st, 2010, the citizens of Nashville, TN, braced themselves for historic flooding.
"It was essentially the storm of the century..."
Joe and Colleen Coury checked their pantry and realized they had very little food and weren’t prepared for the storm. They thought they could outrun the storm, so they rushed to a nearby grocery store with their son Clay.
Joe says, "It took about a half hour, and on the way back, we encountered about 10-15 inches of water."
The water surrounding their car surged from 10 inches to almost 3 feet in a matter of seconds. Colleen recalls, "The road still hadn't been closed. As we were crossing in our Chevy Trail Blazer, it was an immediate surge."
"At that point, I rolled the window down and I told my wife and my son to get out and get on the hood," Joe says. "I pulled them out and I got on the hood myself.
I knew I had time to use my cell phone to make one phone call. I am my mother’s only child, and I knew I had to tell her one last time that I loved her if I didn’t make it."
"So my mother said when she got the call from me that she immediately called people in our church and they immediately started a prayer chain," Colleeen says. "[My mother] said, 'All I thought of was the power of prayer.'"
A second surge of water slammed the vehicle.
Joe says, "That second surge threw me against the vehicle. So I looked at my wife and son, and I said, 'I love you. Stay with the vehicle.'"
"I watched the water literally suck him under," Colleen says. "He disappeared right before my eyes. I remember thinking, I just became a widow at age 41. I didn’t think there was any way Joe could survive that.
My son was praying over and over again. He said the Lord’s prayer. The strength of his voice was unbelievable."
"I said a prayer on the hood of the car," their son Clay says. "My dad went and I kept praying the whole time. I thought if I prayed then we would have a better chance of getting out."
"At that point, maybe a minute later, I heard my husband screaming our names," Colleen says. "I turned to the right and I saw Joe’s head above in this brown awful, swirling water."
Joe had grabbed a tree and could see that the water would soon overtake the Trail Blazer. He says, "The current kept getting stronger and rising."
Colleen says, "I would keep looking at my husband and seeing fear in his face, but he kept looking at me and kept saying, 'You are going to be okay. I know that Clay and you are not going to be able to hold on much longer.'
You could feel the Blazer move. It was just like a suction that pulled the vehicle, and it disappeared. Again it was maybe a matter of two seconds and it was gone."
Colleen and Clay jumped off of the car.
She says, "He had one chance to rescue me. He pulled me out of that water with one arm and literally threw me up on this branch above his head. At that split second I turned my head to check and see where my son was and my son had disappeared.
Clay was gone and all I could think of was that he was under that water."
Clay recalls, "That was the point when I thought I am going to die."
"I looked and his face was under water," Joe says. "His hand was up. I reach out and grabbed him."
After fighting the water for over an hour, the Coury family finally saw three EMS workers braving the water and coming toward them in a row boat.
EMA worker Sam Clark says, "The water that day was the roughest I’ve ever seen. I’ve grown up on the water and I’ve never seen water this rough."
"I remember thinking, Lord, give them the strength and the ability to get to us in this water," Colleen says. "I remember Lt. Sam told us, 'We have one chance to make this work. You have seconds. This boat is not going to last much longer."
Joe, Colleen, and Clay all caught their life jackets and were pulled into the boat with a drag line. After the rescue, 18 men on shore heaved the row boat back in with a rope.
"I relive my son’s voice saying the Lords’ prayer over and over again," Joe says.
"Prayer is powerful," Clay says. "Whatever you are going through, it doesn’t matter what it is. God can help you through, as long as you ask for help."
Colleen agrees, "God’s hand was there. It is an incredible feeling to experience that kind of love."
"Without a shadow of a doubt, God is there," Joe says. "He cares about his children. It was divine intervention at all points in time. I can tell you that day, in that water, those prayers were answered."
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