Woman says she was forced out window with her 3 pets due to Nicole’s surge

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Many homes along the Trout River in Jacksonville were damaged in heavy flooding due to Nicole.

April Sweatt said she can’t return to her apartment, and she’s concerned what might happen as she struggles to find help.

“I can’t go home and that’s the hardest part because it’s not just me,” Sweatt said. “I’m responsible for two other grown people who have health issues worse than I do. I have three pets.”

She said it was around 10 a.m. Thursday when the river overflowed.

Photo shows flooding from April Sweatt's window.

“I was scared,” she said. “I was afraid that the wind, that the water was going to break the window, and you know, again, I’ve never been through this before. And it’s terrifying.”

When the water came up to the windows, Sweatt and her sister-in-law knew it was time to get out. They put their two cats and their dog in carriers, escaping through front window.

“It took us four or five trips through the water,” Sweatt said. “She’s on a breathing machine, so we had to carry her breathing machine, our personal items.”

The two have been staying at a motel. Most of their belongings in the apartment were ruined.

Sweatt said she’s had trouble getting help from federal or local agencies. The city’s storm shelter has closed, and she said due to her animals and her sister-in-law’s health condition, their options are limited.

“I can’t get any of these resources — nobody’s giving me the right way to go,” she said. “It’s just really, really frustrating.”

Sweatt is on disability and says she’s already used her check to cover this month’s bills. Friends covered the cost of staying at the motel for a night — and she’s afraid of what might happen if she can’t get the help she needs.

“I don’t want to be homeless, and that’s where it’s leading to,” Sweatt said. “If I don’t have nowhere to go tomorrow, I’m homeless. ‘Cause I can’t go home.”

Sweatt says they have until noon Saturday before they have to leave the motel. She’s unsure where they will go next.

About the Author:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.