12 February 2019

Namibia: Hobas Flash Flood Survivor's Account

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THE weather started building up on both sides of the camp between 18h00 and 19h30 on Friday, 8 February, and then heavy rain and an electrical storm hit the camp.

My husband and I were in one of the chalets, while another couple was in the other chalet.

There were two campers - a young woman and a man - in ground tents. There were also two vehicles where another couple was in a rooftop tent, and a single man was in another rooftop tent.

I was reading a book while watching lightning flashes through the window. At about 21h30, I heard a roaring sound. There was no wind, and there was no rain. I looked outside, and saw the campsite already under raging water.

I woke my husband up, and told him to get dressed because we were under a flood. We rushed to wake up the couple in the other chalet. By that time, the water was already up the wall.

We also realised that we were stranded on a small island, and that the flood was building up on both sides of the camp. We then switched on the vehicle lights to check on the campers on the ground. They had already been swept away.

One of the vehicles was wedged against two trees, while the other was in the water. We flashed our cellphone lights to inform the occupants that we were aware of their plight.

Once the water had subsided enough, my husband walked to the first vehicle, but it drove out. He then tried to reach the other vehicle, but he could not because of the water level that was still too high.

When he tried for the second time, he reached the second vehicle. To our relief, the young lady camper had already been rescued, although her tent had been washed away.

It turned out that the woman managed to crawl out; washed under a tree log, and then up against the side of the vehicle where a couple saw her and pulled her in.

My husband led the three away from the vehicle, and we proceeded to look for the second camper, using the failing light. We, however, were not lucky.

In the meantime, the river was raging on the other side of the camp where the staff stayed. Again, we were not able to get to them due to the amount of water and thick mud. The next morning, my husband and I woke up early to check the devastation caused by the flood. We found a tent down the river, but the camper - Benjamin, "Benny" a young Nama from Boplaas - was missing.

Police officers arrived, and my husband showed them where the second tent was washed up among the broken trees and debris. We left shortly after that.

- Dianne Beets is a tourist from South Africa.

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