The day that changed our lives

Marley reunited with Tom and Julie Lee

‘We spent all night crying… and then he turned up’ 

By Raul Candela

IT IS now almost a week since an expatriate couple stared death in the face.

Professional singer Tom Lee and his wife Julie of La Muleria village in Almeria, are now thanking God they have survived to tell the story of their rescue by helicopter from a rooftop as floodwaters ravaged their apartment.

And they remain mystified as to how their puppy Marley – now nicknamed Miracle Marley – survived after being swept away in raging waters and going missing overnight.

Still unsure when they will be able to return to their one-storey home where they estimate damage at €150,000 – and unsure how much insurance money they will receive – Tom, aged 64, recalled step-by-step the drama of the day he and 65- year-old Julie were inches from death. 

“It was Friday around noon and we had stopped for lunch. We were watching television when we heard it raining heavily.

“We live in a one-storey apartment with a wall garden around. Suddenly, water came over the wall and through the patio… tons of white water like in rough rivers.

“Before we could do anything, the water was getting inside from the windows.  We grabbed our puppy and credit cards as instinctively I thought we would need them afterwards.

“Water was coming fiercely from every side. We managed to get out of the apartment and started wading in mud and water which was getting higher and higher. Julie and Marley climbed a tree and I tried to phone emergency services, but they were all busy.”

After Tom had been sucked into the mud, he also climbed the tree, and all three then climbed on to the roof.

By this time, the apartment was totally flooded.

“Luckily, we saw a boat looking for people. We shouted, they saw us and a helicopter came to our rescue,” Tom recalled

“But when the helicopter came for Julie she had to release Marley and I could not grab him. In seconds Marley was blown away by the spinning helicopter blades and dropped into the mud.

I shouted to the rescuers. “But it was too risky. Marley was gone,” Tom said.

“I was not worried about the house, nor our cars, only Marley.  “We went back to our apartment in the evening to look for him and we spent all night long crying.”

Then on Saturday Marley became Miracle Marley, for there he was sitting safely on an upturned sofa in the living room.

“How did a puppy manage to swim in the mud and return when I almost drowned?” Tom asked.

“Now everyone calls him Miracle Marley, especially as Tom and Julie found him in the street some months ago, hungry and lice-ridden.

The couple, who lost their passports and documentation, have nothing but praise for the Guardia Civil and helicopter crews.

They are also grateful to neighbours who gave them food and blankets, loaned them a car, helped search for Marley, and to others who gave them keys of their apartment.

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