Crystal Beach man rode out Ike on log

September 20, 2008 7:10:36 AM PDT
It's a story of survival that's hard to believe. A man rode out Hurricane Ike floating on debris and anything else he could grab. ROAD TO RECOVERY: Breaking news on Ike | POD locations | Person locator | Local gas station report | Hurricane guide | Viewer photos of Ike | Latest power numbers

He spoke exclusively to Eyewitness News about how he survived after his home was submerged in flood waters on Crystal Beach.

The scrapes and cuts don't even begin to tell the story of Mark Davidson.

"I went and got my dog dags and put them on in case I would die that night because it was getting that bad," said Davidson.

Davidson decided to ride the storm out in his home in Crystal Beach on Avenue D. It was a mistake the retired Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer would soon regret.

"And about that time I felt the back of the house, come up just like the stern of the ship and came down on the pilings pretty hard," said Davidson.

Around 1am Saturday morning, his house started taking in water and slowing drifting. By 2am, Davidson decided to get out. The former U.S. Navy diver would be tested to the limit.

"I swam out and as soon as I surfaced, I was level with the roof," he said. "The water was level with the roof."

For the next 14 hours, Davidson would do whatever it took to survive.

"When I was on the telephone pole, then I started looking around and see what was going on that's when I saw houses floating just like bumper boats, just crushing and ripping in half."

The telephone pole he was clinging to soon went under and Davidson knew he had to swim away from all the debris on Crystal Beach.

"Because that was going to crush and kill me," he said.

He began his journey through town using pieces of plywood to maneuver his way around. But it was a patio table he used as a boogie board that he says saved his life.

"I would not let that thing go for nothing," said Davidson.

For the next several hours, Davidson was drifting toward East Bay.

"It was like being dumped under water and then come up for a breath dumped under water, dumped under water and it was like that the entire evening," said Davidson.

But he endured the storm even after an encounter with an alligator and in the end found safety when he finally came ashore at Smith Point. Where the National Guard help rescue him.

"The one thing I was thinking is that I wanted to see my wife, my dog, my brothers and I have a lot of things to finish in this life," said Davidson. "I am not done yet."

Davidson says he is done living on the coast.

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