Heroic act caught on camera as Irma sent floodwaters into senior complex

Man tries to keep water from coming in so elderly father can be moved to safety

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Many acts of heroism were displayed during Hurricane Irma. In Jacksonville's San Marco neighborhood, one man tried to prevent the floodwaters from coming through a door so his elderly father could be moved to safety. 

It happened at the Towers of Jacksonville -- formerly known as Baptist Towers -- which is home to many seniors in San Marco. 

News4Jax talked with a few residents about how they are getting by without power and being surrounded by water. 

As of Wednesday, things were improving and the water had gone down, but the power was still out and they feel stuck. 

But members of one family said they are lucky to be here because on Monday, as the water was rushing in, they were trying to rush out. 

"You got to do what you got to do," Joe Dupruis Jr. said "It's like once the waves started coming in, it broke the latch on the door. 'You've got to get the door shut,' that's all I was thinking."

Joe Jr. and his parents live on the first floor of the Towers. They live there because Joe Sr. can't climb steps. 

But when Irma showed up, they knew they had to move because the water was coming in. Cellphone video shot by Joe's mother, Vera, shows Joe Jr. at the end of the hall, trying to close the doors and strap them shut with an extension cord, all while the water from the St. Johns River pours into the hallway and into their home.

"We had to get the door shut safely, and it just started going up 2 inches at a time. At that time, we had to get my dad out, upstairs to our friend Gil's apartment, which is on the sixth floor," Joe Jr. said. "Hoped it didn't get no higher, (but the water) just kept going up 2 inches at a time."

Joe Jr. said the floodwaters pretty much destroyed his parent's apartment.

"From the waist down, it's got a ring around it," he said.

Two days later at the Towers, they were trying to make repairs and get everything back online, and working as hard as possible to save what they could. 

Though it's still a mess on the inside and outside, people are just trying to get their lives back together. 

"I do feel lucky," Vera said. "I thank God that we are all safe -- never mind the stuff here. We survived."

For that, they are grateful. They said they will think about evacuating during the next storm.

Other residents said they did not expect it to be this bad. Several lost cars and some personal items might have even floated into the St. Johns River.

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