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Man who escaped flooded car in Lumberton remains hopeful wife will be found


David Feldman describes his wife as a kind and caring person who has many friends and who is very much loved.

“This has been hell,” Feldman said.

By phone on Wednesday, he shared his horrific story of driving through the stormy weather of Hurricane Matthew on Saturday and losing sight of his wife.

He hasn’t seen her since.

Feldman said he and Barbara, his wife of almost 30 years, were driving a rental car from South Florida to Long Island, New York for his father’s memorial. They left on Friday and arrived in Georgia.

“The storm was kicking up,” Feldman said.

They stayed overnight and hit the road again Saturday, driving through South Carolina and then North Carolina.

“Then we get up to the Fayetteville area,” Feldman said, “all of a sudden there’s a big gigantic puddle.”

He said people started to turn around and were getting off the nearest exit. They followed suit and started looking for an alternate route. He said he found one at I-95 at 211.

“We get on this 211, and I was on there no more than maybe two or three minutes when all of a sudden I see some high water. But I couldn’t tell how high it was because it was kind of dark,” Feldman recalled. “We were getting through all kinds of water and puddles on the way up so I figured it’s just one more. All of a sudden, I feel like the car is taking on some water.”


He said he tried to turn around but it was too late.

“I ended up in the middle of this lake,” Feldman said, “I couldn’t believe it, everything happened so fast.

“I get out of the car, I don’t know how, people ask me how did you get out and the honest answer, I’ll be truthful, God got me out,” he added. “God got me out.”

During all of this, he said, the car kept moving through the water, which he described as having a strong current.

“I got up above water and I looked around, I didn’t see her, I saw the car go down,” said Feldman, who by then was trying to find his wife. “I start calling for her, I don’t hear her and my first instinct was to swim to a place where I could keep my head above water where I could call for help.”

Thankfully, emergency crews were already on scene. He said two canoes approached him and he was pulled into one of them. The other had a crew already looking for Barbara.

“We were just looking for a darn alternate route,” Feldman said. “But everybody was telling me no one really knew how high the river was going to rise.”

It’s now Wednesday and rescue crews still have not found his wife.

A spokesperson for the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said they have received several reports of people in vehicles that have been swept away near the same location. They said that because of the still-high waters, vehicles may still be submerged.

First responders, at this time, are not able to find these cars and possibly, people inside them, until the water goes down. The water is also very murky, so it’s hard to tell what lies beneath. They fear that when the floodwaters recede the death toll may rise in the Lumberton area.

“My wife was a wonderful person. She had a very good heart, cared about people,” Feldman said. “Very friendly and kind, you know, she had a lot of friends, everybody loved her. I want to say still loves her because I’m not giving up hope.”

The car they were in was a rental. A blue Toyota with Indiana license plates.

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