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'I said please God, don't let me die:' Tennessee boy survives flood after climbing on a roof

Ripped from his mother, 8-year-old boy survives Waverly flood on his own
Posted at 8:20 AM, Aug 27, 2021

WAVERLY, Tenn. — At 8 years old, a Tennessee boy survived the impossible during the recent flash flooding in the state and the stitches on his face tell the story.

"I went into the living room and told my mom that the water was covering the road, so she told me to pack my bags and everything that I need," said Madden Sanders, describing the flood on Saturday morning.

As the floodwaters rushed into his Waverly home, the house lifted off its base, floating away.

"Then I looked because I felt something and we were moving," said Madden's mother, Elizabeth Sanders. "Then I heard the house. It felt like it was collapsing in, everything was coming toward us."

Elizabeth quickly grabbed a floating toy, just big enough to put him on.

Sanders family home
After it was torn off its base, the Sanders' family home was carried by flood waters and left a block away from its location.

"We floated out. She pushed me out too far and she went under and then I went under and then I hit the house two times," said Madden.

Elizabeth said, "That was the last time I saw him and all I could hear him screaming was, 'Mommy' at me."

The waters ripped them apart, dragging Elizabeth a mile away.

"My mama washed away and then I found this shed and I was holding on to it and then I got an idea and I climbed on top of the shed," said Madden. He waited on the shed alone.

As the minutes went by, he prayed.

"I said please God, don't let me die," said Madden. "I want to live a really good life."

The shed that saved Madden
Madden Sanders points to the roof of the collapsed shed where he sought refuge for hours alone before he was saved.

Friends and family looked everywhere for him, including his uncle who wouldn't survive the search.

"I thought for sure my baby was just gone, I thought that was it," said Elizabeth.

Four hours later, Madden was found. Bystander video shows Madden putting on a life-vest as he was pulled to safety by Waverly resident Mark Bohanon.

His mother believes it was a miracle.

"I don't know what God has planned for my boy, but I'm ready to see it," said Elizabeth. "I know he's got big plans for him."

On Monday, Madden will turn 9 years old and his family has never been happier to celebrate.

This story was originally published by Olivia Michael at WTVF.