The rain was pouring down so hard, so fast on Monday, March 5, Gayle Masters had to move her vehicles onto her patio area.

"It was flooding my yard," she said. "I had already moved my vehicle onto the patio area. And water got in the motor of my van and truck. It was so flooded that my neighbor, who has lived here 60 years, said she has never seen anything like it before. It was up to her door."

Mrs. Masters, who lives right by Gayle's Tamale Shop on Elm Street, is known throughout Bastrop as the 'tamale lady.'

During the downpour she and her nephew, Ethan Boyte, were attempting to clean the flooded culvert out so that the water would flow out of her already flooded yard. Then Ethan suddenly fell into the water.

"He was hanging onto a sign that was sticking up in the culvert," she said. "The water pressure was so strong. Water was all around his face. I thought he was gone."

Ethan said he did not realize the current in the culvert was so powerful.

"I kind of slipped and it just sucked me in," he said. "I was holding on with everything I had. I thought that she (Mrs. Masters) went inside to call 9-1-1. By the time I was pulled out of the water and realized she was not there, I thought she was dead. I was in a nightmare. I called the police and ambulance. I still had water in my lungs."

Mrs. Masters agreed with Ethan that the pressure of the culvert was nothing that she nor anyone could contend with.

"I was reaching, trying to grab Ethan and that's when the culvert sucked me in," Mrs. Masters said.

"I came out on the other side of Odom St. across from Dr. Russell's office," she said. "I broke one of my fingers and my legs are black and blue from the knees down. I also hit my head and skinned my elbows up."

But the injuries were minor, considering she was swept almost two football fields underground.

Mrs. Masters said at first she tried grabbing anything and everything she could as she was being moved along by the current.

"I was fighting for my life," she said. "That is how I broke my finger, I am sure. Then I started to pray. I prayed to God that if it was His will for me to live, then I will live. And I had a peace come over me.

"A lot of people had thought I had died," she said. "Paramedics told the doctor they don't know how I lived. It was a miracle."

Someone also rescued her nephew while she was being swept by the water in the culvert, and Mrs. Masters said she would like to thank whoever it was that rescued him.

Bastrop Daily Enterprise's Sports Editor Marq Mitcham was in the area during the rainy downpour taking pictures of flooded areas when he saw Mrs. Masters and her nephew clearing the culvert.

Mitcham said he was taking photos from his car, and out of the corner of his eye, saw someone fall into the water.

"I knew something was wrong, so I parked my car and ran to the culvert, "he said. "By the time I got there, a man who had a strap in the back of his pickup was pulling (Boyte) out of the water."

Upon viewing his photographs, Mitcham was surprised to see Mrs. Masters standing alone in the third frame. Boyte's head was above water in the first two shots, but had disappeared under water in the third shot. He did not see his aunt fall into the water.

As Boyte hugged his rescuer upon being pulled to safety, the celebration quickly turned to horror as questions began to arise regarding Mrs. Master's whereabouts.

"Someone told me the current had spit her out in the (East Madison) park, but he didn't say she survived," Mitcham said. "I left the scene assuming she had drowned. It wasn't until three or four hours later that I found out she had survived."

Mrs. Masters said the people of Morehouse Parish have poured love and kindness out to her by sending cards and gifts.

"I got three cards in the mail today," she said. "Rhonda at the Etc. Catering even made me a personal card herself. I want to thank the good Lord that I made it out there alive. I want to thank everyone for being so sweet and nice and concerned about me. I have been bombarded with people being so sweet."