The NSRI became the only hope to ferry residents of St Francis Bay across the Sand River yesterday after the Sand River Bridge washed away for the third time in the early hours of the morning.
Marc May, NSRI St Francis Bay station commander, said the St Francis Bay volunteers had been activated shortly after 7am yesterday following reports of the Main Road at the intersection of Sand River and the Krom river collapsed. The road is the only access route to and from St Francis Bay.
Throughout Sunday NSRI St Francis Bay ferried well over 200 people across the river. May said there was simply no other way for tourists leaving or entering St Francis Bay, some of whom had flights to catch or other destinations to reach.
May said they had also assisted ferrying a child that needed to go to hospital suffering a high temperature, and many people making their Sunday trip to hospital for treatment, across the flooded river.
May said the NSRI had also assisted families with Matric pupils who begin writing their final exams today, who were ferried out to families and friends assisting with accommodation so that they can reach their schools today, to write.
May said some private boats had also initially been used to help in the massive operation, but with debris and flotsam floating downstream, the damage caused to the boats led to the private operators withdrawing.
The NSRI pressed on and by late last light it appeared that most people who had to leave and most people who have had to come in to St Francis Bay had been ferried across the flooded river.
May said Disaster Management and Police had manned the entry and exit points to try to prevent people from trying to cross the river during the night to prevent injury and residents and tourists were advised not to try to cross the river during the night.