The Hugo family’s car, which was damaged in a flash flood in the Karoo. (Die Burger)
Port Elizabeth – Stuck in a thorn tree, a family’s prayers
were answered when the flash flood that had washed their car down a normally dry Karoo ravine subsided minutes after it
started, Die Burger reported on Thursday.
The drama started at about 02:30 on Wednesday on the N9,
after a 200mm downpour in less than an hour.
A still shaken Barry Hugo, from Kloof, Durban, on Wednesday
said he was travelling with his wife Ester, daughter Rencia, 22, and son
Jonathan, 19, on the N9 about 18km outside Willowmore when he saw a pool of
water over the road.
â€œI immediately slowed down. The water pushed high against
the doors and suddenly there was a hard bump against the car,â€? said Hugo.
He said all he saw on his side of the car was a wall of
uprooted trees and road barriers that had been wrenched up by the flash flood.
On his wifeâ€™s side he just saw a deep chasm.
Seconds later the wall of debris had pushed their VW Jetta
and trailer over the steep, six-metre embankment into a cauldron of water
broiling with tree trunks. Hugo said he believed the trailer acted like a storm
anchor to prevent the car from capsizing and spinning. â€œThat was the first
The second miracle was that they could open one of the car
doors and climb out onto the roof as the car bobbed along with the flood.
They were praying hard when the car and trailer bumped into
a thorn tree, but just as they thought they were safe, a truck tried to cross
the same â€œpuddleâ€? and the force of flood summarily wrenched loose the trailer,
sending the giant metal box careening to the family on their carâ€™s roof.
â€œWe knew if that thing hit us, weâ€™d be dead. All four of us
got into that thorn tree very quickly.â€?
Amid the thorns, with the water churning around them in the
dark, they started praying aloud, asking God for a miracle.
Some 20 minutes later the flash flood had subsided as flash
floods do, and the family could scramble up the steep, muddy bank to get back
to the N2.
Hugo stopped a passing vehicle and called for help on a
Willowmoreâ€™s emergency services were quick to the scene as
well as farmers from the area. One of the farmers used his 4×4 to pull the
truck-trailer out of the river bed.
Willowmore Mayor Ewald Loock said the stormwater drains
could not cope with flash flooding and water had piled up a six-metre high dam
next to the N9.
Hugo said his family had not yet experienced hospitality as
was displayed by the residents of Willowmore.
When Hugo returned to the scene of the drama during
daylight, he saw that his familyâ€™s nightmare river was just a dry ravine. He
joked that he will never again believe stories of the â€œdry Karooâ€?.
The car is a write-off. The family were due to fly out of