Neighbor 'in shock' after friend killed trying to escape raging floodwaters in Orange County

Josh Einiger Image
Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Neighbor 'in shock' after woman killed trying to escape flooding
For Jessica Eshleman, she isn't just shocked about her mud-choked home, she also lost her friend who was killed in rushing floodwaters in Orange County. Josh Einiger has more.

FORT MONTGOMERY, New York (WABC) -- Neighbors in Orange County are in shock after the death of a woman who was caught in the terrifying deluge that sparked dangerous flooding over the weekend.

When the usually placid Highland Brook overwhelmed the tiny communities along its banks, people rushed to higher ground. Unfortunately, one person didn't make it.

Pamela Nugent, 43, was killed in rushing floodwaters in Orange County. She was trying to escape her flooded house with her dog, but she was swept away.

Rain continued to batter an already severely damaged Hudson Valley on Monday morning after flooding killed at least one person. Sonia Rincon has the latest details.

"We discovered her remains, she was in the bottom of a ravine," Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus said. "It was very dangerous for the first responders that had to get her out of there. We saw the debris falling on them as they tried to get her onto high land where we could get her back to the Medical Examiner's Office."

For years Nugent lived right above Jessica Eshleman, in the small village of Fort Montgomery.

"I'm still kind of in shock. I lost everything," said Eshleman, the victim's friend.

For Eshleman, it isn't just about her mud-choked home. It's that she also lost her friend.

When the water rose on Sunday, Nugent, her father, her fiancé and their dog tried to get to higher ground.

"And then they made it across, and I guess she freaked out and panicked, she tried to make it across with the dog, it just happened too suddenly," Eshleman said.

One town away, Governor Kathy Hochul toured Highland Falls, where a layer of mud covers everything and where county leaders have activated a shelter for those flooded out of their homes.

"The first step is assessment. Assess the damage, access the monetary value of the damage so we can put a request for FEMA assistance to help the communities have the resources they need to rebuild," she said.

The loss is especially daunting for Nugent's neighbors.

"When anybody dies, it's a shame. The circumstances of how it happened, that makes it even worse," one neighbor said.

Eshleman and her family were away for the weekend and will forever wonder what might have happened had they been home.

"Well, I was lucky that no one was home, my girls are away," she said.

The governor will be requesting a federal disaster declaration which will bring much needed resources to this region.

But for Eshleman and Nugent's neighbors, they're not even thinking about rebuilding right now. They're still in shock over their neighbor, a helpless woman who could not escape the rising rater that came out of nowhere and carried her away.


* More Northern Suburbs news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.