TOMS RIVER, NJ – An emergency room technician, in order to make it to her shift the day after Sandy hit, swam part of the way there through the floodwaters.
According to NBC News, Marsha Hedgepeth was incredibly determined to make it to her 3 pm shift at Community Medical Center hospital the day after Sandy hit the East coast. Hedgepeth said, ‘Can’t’ isn’t in my vocabulary, so I knew I was going to make it.”
However, when Hedgepeth looked outside, her neighborhood was dark and completely flooded. The Barnegat Bay had poured 10-foot waves on to her street overnight and the streetlights were out.
Hedgepeth waited until sunrise until she set off with a plan. She said:
“I dove into water, and I couldn’t see the steps I was walking down because they were covered in water. So I said the easiest way to get there is just swim until I reach the ground.”
Hedgepeth was dressed in jeans and sneakers. She also bundled up in a scarf, hat, and mittens before swimming about 200 yards. This is the equivalent of swimming about four lengths of an Olympic-sized pool.
While swimming, Hedgepeth navigated through the debris and carryied her scrubs in a grocery bag.
She hitched a ride with some utility workers when she got to the highway. She arrived to work six hours before her shift.
Hospital administrators say it’s a testament to Hedgepeth’s hard work and resilience. Administrative director at Community Medical Center Teri Kubiel said:
“To suffer such a tragedy and have to endure the extreme weather we had experienced on the Jersey Shore that day — we can’t say enough of how proud we are of her and that she is safe.”
Hedgepeth said this about her swimming session:
“It wasn’t the safest thing I’ve ever done in my life. In hindsight, would I do it again? No. Would I always make it to the hospital to do my shift? Absolutely.”