'She’s a hero.' Woman dies saving neighbors from Waverly flooding

Mary Luten
Posted at 8:36 PM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 09:45:51-04

WAVERLY, Tenn. (WTVF) — For Jodie Stawski and her son Daniel, the pain of losing so much, so quickly, is sometimes more than they can bear.

“Everything’s ruined,” said Daniel Cate, Jodie’s son.

“It’s all ruined, it’s all gone. All my stuff. It’s just gone,” said Jodie Stawski.

They spent Tuesday sifting through what could be salvaged. Jodie got emotional seeing important paperwork and old love letters from her parents – now marred in mud. “It’s ok though, it’s ok, didn’t lose any family,” she said.

That’s true because their neighbor, Mary Luten, who saw the need to knock. “She said it’s an emergency, and she made me understand. She didn’t just say it once, she made me understand, get out. If it wasn’t for her, we wouldn’t be here. There’s no doubt,” said Jodie.

By the time they could get the car around, Trace Creek had risen to their doorstep. “I remember as I was getting into the car, her standing there and she was like looking at us like -- almost rooting for us to get out of here, go,” she said.

Mary stayed behind, alerting others, but there wasn’t enough time to save herself. “We will never forget her and we will tell all the people about her forever, and our grandchildren will,” said Stawski.

In addition to being a kind neighbor, Mary was also the proud mother of two adult sons. “She’s a hero, she saved our lives,” said Daniel. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for your mom,” added Jodie.

Losing so much, so quickly, they don’t have much they can give her sons, other than an unending flow of gratitude.

" I know that [God] sent Mary here and I’ll never let nobody forget her, as long as I’m alive, she’ll be remembered. I can promise you that,” said Jodie. “And she wasn’t even worried about herself. That’s what gets me. She didn’t care. She just worried about us. That’s a true hero.”

But there is something you can do. Mary’s family have set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses and to help Mary's son, Dustin, get back on his feet after losing everything in the flood.