Durban - The driver of a black Ford Ranger bakkie managed to escape safely from his car after attempting to cross a flooded road in Umdloti Beach in Umdloti, north of Durban, on Saturday.
The driver, Naieem Essop, commenting on Facebook on a video of his abandoned car, which had been posted by Reaction Unit South Africa (Rusa) explained that he had to wedge his car between trees to keep it from being washed away.
“This happened at around 6.30 pm, I was the driver of the vehicle. The water on the bridge was low when we were exiting through. When the vehicle was halfway through the walls collapsed I managed to keep the vehicle on the bridge. I wedged it between the tree so we did not get washed away and we exited through the window and went clinging onto the tree. Luckily for us, there was Sea Rescue on the scene at that time so we are fine.Seems like the road collapsed and the tyres were bogged,” wrote Essop.
Rusa spokesperson Prem Balram said that his officers noticed the abandoned car while they were responding to a call out in the area at approximately 9.06pm when they noticed the vehicle partially submerged in water.
“The headlights were on and the windows were open. Officers stopped to investigate and it was established that the driver attempted to cross the flooded road when his vehicle stalled. He abandoned his vehicle and sought refuge at a nearby municipality office,” said Balram.
Terona Naidoo-Govender reacting to the driver’s post wrote: “Naieem Essop, that was super quick thinking of you. Many would've kept trying in that moment of panic. I, for one, wouldn't have thought of wedging the vehicle between the trees. You saved your occupants! A car has material value. Your lives are invaluable. Sorry that you had to experience this but so glad that your quick thinking kept you all safe.”
Also on Saturday, Medi Response crews assisted three people to safety in Umdloti after the vehicle that they were travelling in, became surrounded by rising waters.
Medi Response spokesperson Paul Herbst urged motorists to please exercise caution when approaching high waters and low-level crossings.
“Do not attempt to cross flowing and risen waters,” he said.
Herbst said that their search and rescue crews, together with SAPS K9 search and rescue and CERT, also attended to a scene in the Desainager area, where a roadway had washed away, taking with it a vehicle.
“The driver of the vehicle was lucky to escape unharmed. The Medi Response operations control centre has received numerous calls for localised flooding, mostly in the oThongathi area. Multiple units are attending to calls. We urge the community to stay off of the roads where possible. Please monitor waterways and water bodies within proximity to your home. Be vigilant and vacate an area, if you anticipate risk of rising waters. Our crews are available to assist as required.”
KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Services spokesperson Rob McKenzie said emergency personnel were still on high alert as there was still heavy rainfall, especially in the eThekwini district.
“Localised flooding has closed off some roads, from EMS perspective we are able to almost access all the areas at this stage still even if its via alternative routes. We still have access to all of our health facilities.”
He said that there was an old age home that had to be evacuated on Saturday in Tongaat, however, no injuries were reported.
“At this stage, there are no other direct incidents as a result of the flooding however we are still on high alert, with level 10 warning still in place by SAWS”.
Meanwhile, ALS paramedics have said that they have been kept busy with multiple calls of roads being closed, and people being stuck inside their premises.
“Many roads are closed due to fallen trees, mudslides. The northern area of Durban being uMdloti has been severely damaged”.