Clifford Ireland, NSRI Durban station commander, said:
At approximately 16h00 on Monday 25 July NSRI Durban duty crew and additional off-duty crew were activated following reports from KZN – EMRS (Emergency Medical and Rescue Services), SAPS Search & Rescue and Netcare 911 ambulance services of multiple incidents of flooding around the Durban area.
Our coxswain, Paul Bevis, responded in his own vehicle to assist Police Search & Rescue at Booth Road for two people suspected to be trapped in vehicles on flooded roads). Both persons were assisted and they were not injured.
Additional incidents of persons trapped in their vehicles by flood waters were dealt with by NSRI crew, Police Search and Rescue, eThekwini Fire and Rescue Services, Netcare 911, SA Police Services and Metro Police in Quarry Road and in the Springfield area. All persons affected were assisted from their vehicles in that area and no injuries were reported.
NSRI and Police Search and Rescue then responded to Marion Avenue to reports of a woman trapped by flood waters in her vehicle but prior to arrival on the scene Netcare 911 paramedics confirmed that they were on the scene and the woman had been helped from her vehicle without incident.
At 19h00 NSRI and Police Search and Rescue were then diverted to respond to Umlaas Road in Umlazi to assist at reports of two young people (a teenage boy aged approximately 13 and a young male aged approximately 20) trapped on a small island in the middle of the Umlaas river with the water levels rising and the river in full flood.
On arrival on the scene the SA Police Services, eThekwini Fire and Rescue Services and KZN-EMRS were on the scene but they were unable to reach the three persons trapped on the island. The third person, an elderly man aged believed to be in his late 50’s, had used a PFD – personal floatation device – to swim to the island to attempt to rescue the teenager and the young adult.
A floatation rope was thrown to them but debris in the strong flood kept washing the rope away and NSRI’s Paul Bevis and Police Search and Rescue’s Jacobus van der Merwe donned wet suits. Paul managed to swim to the island from further up river, using the currents to reach the island, and he found that the three men had managed to reach floating debris in the main water channel but they were found to be in grave danger.
In a rescue operation, lasting an hour, Paul managed to get all three men back to the relative safety of the island. He lost grip on the 20 year old man a number of times and had to grab him from under water a number of times. Although all three were exhausted they were safer on the island. The elderly man then managed to swim to the other side of the river, aided by his PFD, and used the river currents to come out safely further downstream. Police reported that he was not injured.
The Police Search and Rescue diver, Jacobus van der Merwe, swam across and used a body board to swim the teenager to safety and he was handed into the care of Paramedics.
Paul then began to wade and swim the 20 year old across the river but the effort was made difficult due to the young man suffering severe exhaustion. Jacobus had, by that stage, swum back out and together Paul and Jacobus used the body board to swim the young adult to safety. The young man was handed into the care of Paramedics.
Both the teenager and the young adult were transported to hospital by ambulance suffering exhaustion, hypothermia and displaying signs of near drowning symptoms. Both were in stable conditions and they are expected to fully recover. That operation was completed at around 19h45.
NSRI crew and Emergency Services then responded to Amanzimtoti following reports of a vehicle swept down a flooded road. On arrival on the scene no vehicle could be found and Police are investigating the reports. Following that they responded to Silverglen, Chatsworth, where they attended to two vehicles swept down a river. Occupants from one of the vehicles confirmed that they were all safe and not injured but a report that a female driver may still be trapped in the second vehicle was investigated.
NSRI rescuers swam to the vehicle and searched the vehicle but there was no sign of the driver. The driver, believed to be a local woman, remains missing. With strong flowing flood water preventing a more thorough search, Police Search and Rescue took over on the scene and Police are investigating the incident.
The Sea Rescue vehicle then responded to Alpine and Umgeni road to assist Netcare 911 with persons reportedly trapped in vehicles by flood waters. Due to the heavy traffic it was very difficult to get to the scene but once on the scene they assisted a number of people that had been trapped in their vehicles and no injuries were reported. Following that they were sent to Glenashly to assist with persons reportedly trapped in vehicles by flood waters and once on the scene they assisted a number of people that had been trapped in vehicles and no injuries were reported.
NSRI Durban’s Lorenzo Tavern Turisan assisted with evacuating people from flooded homes in his local neighbourhood in Yellowood Park and no injuries were reported.
Police and Emergency Services are continuing with incidents and Police are investigating incidents where persons remain missing in incidents related to the severe flooding.
TO REPORT A SEA RESCUE EMERGENCY DIAL 112 FROM A CELLPHONE