2019-06-11-ne-floodrescue-p1

Regina Traylor (left) and Stephanie Traylor are pictured with new baby Reece Traylor. CHASE REAVIS/Tulsa World

By the time Regina Traylor finally made it to the hospital to see the birth of her 10th grandchild, her car was totaled and she was drenched up to her waist.

Stephanie Traylor, 26, went to Hillcrest Hospital Claremore to be induced and was still in labor the evening of May 20, when her mother tried to leave for the hospital.

Regina couldn’t even make it out of her neighborhood before the tornado sirens started going off, shortly before 9:30 p.m.

While Regina waited on the sirens to die down, her other daughters kept her updated on Stephanie. She was getting close to delivering. Once the sirens went quiet, Regina was back on the road.

Regina said she thought she could avoid flooded areas on the nine-minute drive.

“I got about four or five blocks from the hospital, and I mean it was just raining so hard and still storming so bad. You couldn’t even see the roads,” Regina said. “And all of a sudden, I’m in this water.”

When she realized her car was stuck, she said she tried to roll down her window to check how high the water was, but the windows didn’t respond.

“The water was just gushing, and before I knew it, my car was filling up,” she said.

Regina called one of her daughters at the hospital for help. When Courtney Friend, 32, answered the phone, she just thought her mother wanted to know how far along Stephanie was.

“I was like, ‘It’s OK, he’s not coming out yet,’” Friend said. “And then I heard her say something about water, like water getting in her car.”

Friend’s sister Brittany Cline, 29, scrambled for her keys, ran out the door and bumped into Stephanie’s doctor, Melinda Steelmon. Cline said when she found out what was going on, the doctor offered to help with the rescue in her own pickup truck.

By the time they reached Regina, water had risen to cover the hood of her car.

“I was hollering at them not to get out because I was afraid they would get swept away,” Regina said.

But Cline and Steelmon refused to leave her there. They managed to get her out and into Steelmon’s backseat.

“As soon as I got out, my car went floating down Florence,” Regina said of the residential area on North Florence Avenue near East 12th Place.

Cline and Regina sat in the backseat hugging and crying while Steelmon took them back to the hospital.

“I thought it was a dream for a while,” Cline said. “I really just didn’t even feel like it was a real thing.”

When they got back to Hillcrest, Steelmon took the women’s wet clothes and gave them scrubs to wear. Then she went back to the delivery room.

“When you deliver babies, you’re kind of an adrenaline junkie anyway,” Steelmon said. “You don’t really think about it. You just go do what you need to do.”

Reece Mason Traylor was born at 1:30 a.m. May 21 after more than 24 hours of labor.

Regina is glad she made it to see her 10th grandchild and fifth grandson be born, but she doesn’t think she’ll be out driving in the rain any time soon, she said.


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Chase Reavis

918-581-8457

chase.reavis@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @DCReavis

Chase is an intern at the Tulsa World. He is a senior at the University of Arkansas, where he is majoring in journalism and Spanish. Phone: 918-581-8457

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