Earlier that evening Thompson and her fellow residents at the Lumbee Homes housing complex in southwest Lumberton, North Carolina, had repeatedly called 911, begging for rescue before the waters got too deep. But help never came, they say, so around daybreak the next morning, Thompson and the other 200 or so residents engineered their own rescue.
As the waters began to rise around the complex on Sunday night and the calls for help continued to go unanswered, it became clear to the people living there: They would have to rescue themselves.
They said they had called 911 numerous times, but no one answered.
Officials in Robeson County dispute this. Kellie Blue, a spokesperson for Robeson County Emergency Management, said emergency services went and picked up everyone who called 911 for help on Sunday and Monday. She said that rescue boats and helicopters were "in the area" of Lumbee Homes on Monday, but she didn't know for certain whether they stopped there to pick anyone up.
It's not clear why the residents weren't helped. They said rescue helicopters were seen and heard flying directly over Lumbee Homes, but none stopped for them.
It's also unclear whether Lumbee Homes, a subsidized neighborhood, was under a mandatory evacuation order.
A group of teenage boys -- Jaylane Sinclair, Kashon Priest, Louis Rodriguez and Davontae McBryde -- ventured out into what was then-knee-deep water, trying to find somebody who could help them.
They ran into some folks on boats who were rescuing people in the area. They told them there were others at Lumbee Homes that needed to be rescued, too. The boys say the men told them someone would be along soon to get them. But no one ever came.
"It's like we were forgotten," Rodriguez said.
The next morning at 5, as Thompson was near the end of her restless night, a great sound boomed from above. It was Sinclair. He was on the roof of one of the 50 red-brick duplexes in Lumbee Homes, screaming for everyone to get up. The water was still rising.
Thompson and her friends decided they couldn't wait around for rescue anymore. They had to get out of there -- now. So they went door-to-door, waking people and telling them it was time to leave.
"We took it upon ourselves," said Shaneice McQueen, another resident. "If we didn't save ourselves, we'd be dead right now."
The young and the old
As Thompson, McQueen and others ran around knocking on doors and waking people up, they grew especially concerned about getting the complex's older residents out. McQueen said there were about 20 of them. For the ones who had trouble walking, Thompson said they made sure they had their canes. If those couldn't be found quickly, they improvised and used other items such as umbrellas or baseball bats, whatever they could find to support them.
"I had to help them to get the elderly," resident Deloise Pearson said. "We made sure everyone got out."
Three of the older residents were paralyzed and had to be carried out, with the help of those teenage boys -- Sinclair, Priest, Rodriguez and McBryde.
There's a lot of kids that live in the complex too, and the water -- now up to the adults' chests -- was just too high for them to simply walk out, and only so many of them could be carried out on people's backs. So the residents came up with a novel idea. They gathered up as many inflated air mattresses as they could get their hands on, about four of them, placed the younger children on them and floated them out of the complex.
They said they got all of Lumbee Homes children -- about 50 of them -- to safety that way.