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At 12h41, Thursday, 6 May, NSRI Kleinmond duty crew were activated to respond to the Sonderend River, at Riviersonderend, on the N2 Freeway, where Overberg Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Police were investigating a situation where rising flood waters had trapped farm workers on one side of the river since Wednesday.

Schalk Boonzaaier, NSRI Kleinmond station commander, said:

NSRI Kleinmond dispatched our NSRI rescue vehicle, with an NSRI Croc, and towing a sea rescue craft. Additional NSRI rescue swimmers responded in their private vehicles After it became apparent that 45 farm workers, 22 adult females, 19 adult males, 4 children and their dog, needed to be ferried and assisted across 2 stretches of the swollen flooded river that had also flooded farm gravel roadways, NSRI Hermanus duty crew were activated to assist.

NSRI Hermanus dispatched their sea rescue vehicle, with an NSRI Croc, and towing a sea rescue craft. Additional NSRI rescue swimmers responded in their private vehicles. Overberg Disaster Risk Management, Overberg Fire and Rescue Services, WC Government EMS ambulances and an EMS rescue squad, the SA Police Services and a Police Dive Unit were on the scene. Police divers had deployed 2 jet-skis and they had established a safe route for the 2 jet-skis to traverse over flooded farm roadways and a section of the flooded Sonderend River to reach an island in the middle of the river and then a section of the river on the other side of the island to reach the stranded farmers.

Police divers also launched a RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) and they had initiated moving the farmers across the river to the island in relays using their 2 jet-skis and their RHIB. Parts of the flooded route were too shallow to launch the NSRI rescue craft and NSRI rescue swimmers, accompanied by 2 NSRI Crocs (small floating boats) were positioned on the Island to receive farmers from the Police divers. The NSRI Crocs and Police RHIB were then used to ferry the farmers across a section of the flooded river to the flooded roadway where NSRI rescue swimmers then led the farmers through the shallow roadway to higher ground where EMS paramedics, DRM members and Firemen received them. A pregnant female and a male, who required medication for a medical condition, were first to be ferried across to safety. The children were next to be ferried across and they were accompanied by parents. The dog was carried most of the way by Police divers and then by NSRI rescue swimmers.

n relays all 45 farmers and their dog were safely assisted across the river by police divers and NSRI rescue swimmers and once safe on higher ground they were medically assessed by EMS paramedics. No one was injured during the operation and the man requiring medication for a medical condition was medicated. Some wildlife animals, including a snake, were assisted to higher ground during the operation. The Police divers jet-skis and Police divers RHIB and the 2 NSRI Crocs were instrumental in carrying out the operation safely. NSRI commend the farmers for their high spirits and their cooperation during the operation and all rescue services involved are commended for their close cooperation in successfully carrying out the safe extraction of the farmers. NSRI crews returned to their NSRI Hermanus and NSRI Kleinmond sea rescue bases at 18h45.

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