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Joseph Rotondo Of Warren, N.J. Searching For Man Who Rescued Him During Ida Flooding – CBS New York

WARREN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The remnants of Ida swept through out area last month, causing mass destruction.

But what shines through was strangers helping strangers.

CBS2’s Meg Baker found a Somerset County man on a quest to find the hero who rescued him from floodwaters.

Joseph Rotondo pointed to a fence to show how high the water had reached as he sat trapped in his car.

“It seemed like seconds, less than a minute. I have, or had, a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and it started floating,” Rotondo said.

Rotondo was out on a rescue mission. His daughter called, saying she couldn’t make it home because of flooding, but he only made it a half a mile when he says the brook off Brookside Drive quickly turned into a raging river.

Photos: Hurricane Ida Remnants Batter Tri-State

“Finally crashed into a telephone pole,” he said.

Rotondo, 63, said the telephone pole saved his life, stopping him from going further into the brook.

“When you are looking around and there is water all around you and it’s coming in the vehicle, and you say, all right, there is not a lot of options here,” he said. “This can’t be how it ends. It can’t end this way.”

The father of four says he tried to stay calm.

“In my mind, I said if it gets past [my chin] I’m going to start to panic and maybe at that point I’m going to get out of the vehicle,” he said.

The water got up to his chest, not his chin.

Then headlights, and a large, raised pickup truck.

“I was beeping the horn and flashing the lights. I don’t know if it even worked. Waving. You don’t know, you are in such a state at that point,” Rotondo said. “He pulled this truck as close to my vehicle as he could… so I open the door, he reaches out his arm from his truck, grabs me and pulled me in.

“He’s like ‘Where do you want to go?’ I’m like ‘I don’t care,’” Rotondo added. “Drop me off on dry land. I don’t care.”

The mystery driver took Rotondo back home.

“You are looking to find whoever this was because it all happened so quickly,” Baker said.

“In the moment, there’s just too much going on. Then you say ‘Wow, thank you. Where did you come from? God sent you,’” Rotondo said.

The only information he got from his rescuer was that he was trying to reach a street named William Penn Way on the other side of town. He’s hoping to meet him again.

Rotondo’s daughter stayed safe in her car, away from the flood water.

CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.

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