Durban – FLASH floods that caused havoc on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast over the weekend also claimed the life of a Nonoti family’s breadwinner, Nivashnee Sanparsad, 36.
According to a relative, Avishkar Sanparsad, a group of 16 people gathered on Saturday along the banks of the Nonoti River for a family get-together.
“We were having a good time, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. It must have been around 7pm when we felt a slight drizzle and decided to pack up.
“As we headed to our cars, which were parked a few metres away, there was just a loud noise, like something had exploded. Then the rain started pelting down on us,” he said.
Sanparsad said that within minutes, the gentle-flowing river had turned into a torrent, washing over the banks.
“Everyone was scared and started running in all directions. The rain was pelting down and there were strong gusts of wind. At that time, all I could think about was getting my three sons to safety. “
Sanparsad said they abandoned their cars where they had been parked, because the water level was rising fast. When they got to higher ground, they watched helplessly as three vehicles were washed away – a car, a bakkie and minibus.
“One of our relatives was in his car when the water started to carry the vehicle away. Luckily, he managed to break the window and get out.”
Sanparsad said as everyone huddled together, they realised Nivashnee was not with them.
He said the downpour lasted another hour, during which time they called for help. However, search and rescue teams only arrived after the rain had stopped.
Paul Herbst, operations director at IPSS Medical Rescue, confirmed that the heavy rains on the north coast resulted in localised flooding in the Nonoti and KwaDukuza areas.
“IPSS Medical Rescue received multiple calls. When our teams arrived, they established that three vehicles had washed away and three occupants, including a child, managed to escape to higher ground.
“Unfortunately, a woman lost her footing and was caught in the strong-flowing water and was swept away,” he said.
Herbst said rescuers from IPSS and the NSRI began a search for Nivashnee, while Umhlali SAPS Search and Rescue searched the area alongside the river.
The team included Sergeant Clinton Odayar and his K9 partner, Dante.
“Approximately 1km downstream, with the assistance of K9 Dante, the woman’s body was located three metres up a tree,” said Herbst.
Sanparsad said the family were struggling to deal with Nivashnee’s death.
He said she was employed as a general worker at a local cash and carry and was the breadwinner in her home.
“She never married, and was dedicated to taking care of her elderly parents and her 7-year-old niece, who she adored.
“She was a quiet person who kept to herself. However, in the last two years she opened up to us. We had just started enjoying spending time together as a family. We would try to have these get-together at least every second week. Now it will never be the same,” he said.
Nivashnee’s funeral was held on Sunday.