10/29/2012 11:15 EDT | Updated 12/29/2012 05:12 EST

'We could have died,' Wawa flood survivors say

A northern Ontario couple is lucky to be alive after flood waters nearly swept their home into Lake Superior.

The Sanders live near the town of Wawa where water from a freak rainstorm last week tore out highways and damaged bridges.

Deb and Jim Sanders were inside early Friday morning when a creek on their property turned into a raging river.

“It created the river that surrounded the house,” Jim Sanders said.

“I tried putting my foot in it and it just swept me away practically and I was holding on to the door frame.”

The storm knocked out the phone lines and washed out their road.

But when part of the house broke away, they grabbed their pets and decided to take their chances with the water.

“It's noisy and scary and so you grab what you can,” he said.

“We figured if anything happened we could jump out the back door and swim down to the beach or some damned thing.”

The couple followed their dog through the dark bush for about a kilometre until they came across a trailer.

They spent the night and set off for help in the morning.

They say a hydro helicopter surveying damage spotted them and gave them a ride to Wawa.

The Sanders are staying with friends in town and said the community support has been overwhelming.

“At first people thought we were dead,” Deb Sanders said.

“I mean we could have been. We could have been.”

Their home is a total loss.

But after their ordeal, they are just glad they are on dry land with their two cats and dog.

“Wawa, I love you,” she said. “Guys, thank you.”