Source: News24 (Extract)
Posted: May 7, 2021

Forty-five farmworkers and a dog were rescued from rising waters as Riviersonderend flooded during a severe storm on Thursday.

The heavy rain and strong winds resulted in flooding in many areas and, by Thursday, two people had died, two had been reported missing and hundreds had been evacuated.

At around 12:40, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) responded to a call at the Sonderend Rivier in Riviersonderend in the Overberg region of the Western Cape.

“Overberg Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and police were investigating a situation where rising flood waters had trapped farmworkers on one side of the river since Wednesday. NSRI Kleinmond dispatched our NSRI rescue vehicle, with an NSRI Croc, and towing a sea rescue craft,” said Schalk Boonzaaier, NSRI Kleinmond station commander.

Hermanus NSRI duty crew were also activated.

Rescue personnel found 22 men, 19 women and four children, along with a dog, desperately needing to be ferried across two stretches of the flooded river.

The rescue mission saw police divers on two jet skis establish a safe route over flooded farm roadways, and a section of the flooded Sonderend River, to reach the stranded families. The families were moved in relays, using the jet skis and boats.

The operation took about six hours to complete.

“The dog was carried most of the way by police divers and then by NSRI rescue swimmers,” Boonzaaier added.

“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,” said Boonzaaier.