When the Rains Came

updated 10/31/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/31/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

IT STARTED AS A GENTLE DRIZZLE, but by the time the rain ended in eastern Texas last week, it had become a deluge of almost biblical proportions. The remains of tropical storm Rosa dumped more than 20 inches on the area in 36 hours, flooding 26 counties and forcing more than 10,000 people from their homes. Tannie Shannon, 49, and his wife, Frances, 51, were at home in Forest Hills, 35 miles outside Houston, babysitting for their 11-month-old granddaughter Andrea, when the rains came. "First there was just a little water," says Shannon, a local video distributor. "Next thing, we couldn't drive out through it. All of a sudden it was coming in the house, and we decided to walk on out."

Half walk, half swim was more like it. The water was neck-deep. So the Shannons swathed Andrea in plastic bunting to keep her dry, put a leash on Amadeus, the family's Old English sheepdog, and forged down the street to a neighbor's truck. Their struggle was captured by David Leeson, a Dallas Morning News photographer, and the dramatic picture above appeared on front pages across the country. "It wouldn't be fair to say we weren't scared," says Shannon. "But we were mostly afraid for our granddaughter."

Baby Andrea, though, was a trouper. "She got a little wet, but she was happy as a lark," says Shannon. "She wasn't upset at all."

Neither, it seems, are her grandparents. Until it is safe to return home, they are staying in nearby Conroe with Andrea's parents, their son Dee Christopher Shannon, 27, and his new wife, Jody, 20. "It'll be a couple more days before the water goes down," says Tannie Shannon calmly. "And then I guess we'll go back and start cleaning up the mess."

From Our Partners