Stranded, one family decided to hike out

Brad and Stephani Cox stayed up all night July 13, taking turns watching to make sure their property didn’t flood.

After a landslide, trees falling around them and more storms coming, they decided it probably wasn’t safe to stay another night.

Carrying toiletries and clothing, the couple, their two sons and a young friend left their house on Annie Smith Road midday July 14 and started hiking through the woods toward Brown Hill Road.

Annie Smith is off Salt Creek Road, which was flooded.

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Brad Cox estimated the distance at about 3 miles.

“It took probably 45 minutes to an hour,” he said. “My hamstrings are burning.”

Stephani Cox said they got lost. When they did find a house, they decided to knock on the door.

“My 18-year-old was like, ‘Mom don’t do that,’ but I was tired and hot,” she said.

The homeowners turned out to be people Brad Cox recognized from the YMCA.

They dropped them off at the Salt Creek Inn, where they and others displaced by the weather were able to rent rooms at a discount.

Dan Bowling, one of the inn’s owners, said the discounted rooms were the least they could do for the community.

“We weren’t looking to make money,” Bowling said. “As soon as it happened, we started talking. It was something small we thought we could do.”

Brad Cox hopped the Little Nashville Express tourist train to run errands while in town.

On Wednesday, they all made it back to their home via a ride from Brad Cox’s mother. When they returned, trees were down in their driveway.

“We had all this stuff in our hands while we were climbing under trees to get to our property,” Stephani Cox said. “My mother-in-law laughed and took a picture.”

On July 15, the property was still without power.

“We took a shower in the overflow of our creek,” Stephani Cox said. “Today, I actually sent my son up there to do dishes.”

At that point, they weren’t sure when their power would return.

“We’re just praying for electricity,” she said.