As Hurricane Harvey's floodwaters rose around them, 41-year-old Colette Sulcer told her daughter, Jordyn, to hold on tight and not let go. That's how they were found later, a shivering Jordyn clinging to her mom, who had drowned while keeping the 3-year-old aloft.
A year on, Jordyn is being raised by Sulcer’s two cousins, Anita Allison and Antionette Logan, who said the course of their lives has changed after the devastating storm.
“My aunt’s children are adults. My children are adults. I was the carefree person. Jordyn comes over, I give her chips, candy, whatever she wants. Now, our dynamic has kind of changed,” Logan told InsideEdition.com. “Everyone is raising a kid again.”
It's something the family said they couldn’t have imagined.
Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, pummeled the Houston area with rain, causing record-breaking floods after it made landfall on Aug 25., 2017. The storm lasted for days, and more than 80 people died from Texas to Tennessee as a result.
On the afternoon of Aug. 29, Sulcer’s family members were chatting in a group text and checking in to make sure everyone was fine.
“It rained for about three, four straight days,” Logan said. “We have a family group text and were basically all just talking to each other throughout the days.”
The electricity had gone out in Sulcer’s Beaumont, Texas, apartment, so she decided to head to her cousin's side of town with Jordyn, but on her way, things took a turn for the worse.
“She was driving [and] I tried to keep up with her to make sure she wasn’t in the water," Allison said. "And she said, ‘It looks pretty good,’ and then when she turned on the feeder road to the interstate she called and said she was in a lot of water.”
Allison told Sulcer she’d call her right back while she searched for a solution.
It was the last time she ever spoke to her cousin.
According to police, Sulcer got out of the car with Jordyn and tried to walk to safety with the toddler in her hands, but at some point, they were both “swept into a nearby canal” and floated a half-mile from her car. A bystander reportedly called 911 after spotting the mother and daughter.
When police arrived, Jordyn was clutching an unresponsive Sulcer — and refusing to let go.
“One of the police officers said as they were trying to get Jordyn. They were like, ‘C'mon let’s go’. She was like, 'No, my mommy said hold on tight and don’t let go,’” Logan said. “She was doing what her mother said at that point.”
Police eventually managed to pull the mother and daughter into a boat. They performed lifesaving measures on Sulcer, but she never regained consciousness.
Logan said she received a call a short time later saying there had been an accident, but she didn’t realize the severity of what happened until she arrived at the hospital.
“When I got to the hospital, they took me to Jordyn and she was happy and smiling and talking to the nurses,” Logan said. “At that point I said, ‘Take me to see Colette. Where is she?’ They said that Colette never made it to the hospital and told me what happened.”
Jordyn is still dealing with what happened.
“If it rains too hard, she gets a little nervous,” Logan said.
The family keeps in contact with the firefighters and police officers who rescued Jordyn. When the officers received an award for the rescue, the family was there. At Christmas, the officers met with Jordyn and gave her gifts.
“That was one of those cases that sticks with you,” Beaumont Officer Haley Morrow told InsideEdition.com. "It’s always a happy ending for us when there is someone in the family that can take custody of a child and not be put in the system.
"She seems to be well and is happy and growing, and that’s always great to hear in cases like these," she added.
Allison was given full custody of Jordyn on June 23. Jordyn's dad gets visitation.
The family is trying to make sure Jordyn never forgets her mom, whether by showing her pictures or having conversations about Sulcer.
“We talk about her mom and any questions she [has], I answer them to the best of my ability because I still have my parents and I can’t imagine what she’s going through," Allison said.
"It’s a daily struggle."