That is how terrified residents have described a massive storm that wreaked havoc in Durban and surrounding areas on Tuesday, leaving at least six people dead and millions in damage to property.
The severe thunderstorm, with gale-force winds reaching 70 km/h and torrential downpours, left residents, visitors and motorists traumatised as they struggled to find places of safety.
“I have never seen anything like this before. It was so scary,” said a resident, Sharon Chetty.
Dumisani Mxo Khabazela said he feared for his safety as he was trapped in a taxi to the Durban CBD.
“It was very scary. Everyone in the taxi was praying, we thought it was the end of the world.
“It’s very sad because some houses in our area were also damaged. There are people who have been left without shelter,” Khabazela said.
Witness sports reporter Nondumiso Zakwe, who was also trapped in the storm, said it was a “terrifying” experience.
“The road was covered in water. Seeing vehicles stranded in knee-high water on the side of the road and some already submerging, was terrifying. I thought we were going to get swept away with the car,” Zakwe said.
Emergency services were on high alert after reports of vehicles being washed away on the N2 highway near Amanzimtoti filtered through early on Tuesday morning.
Social media was abuzz throughout the day with dramatic footage of vehicles submerged under waves of water while motorists and passengers ran for safety.
The N2 near Galleria Mall was closed to traffic on both sides as the highway flooded, leaving vehicles, including trucks, and motorists stranded on the roadside.
eThekwini Municipality issued an urgent warning to motorists to stay off the roads and for residents to remain in their homes while the storm passed through.
By midday yesterday, the South African Weather Services recorded that 83 mm of rainfall had fallen in the Durban region.
“All roads in the southern parts of Durban have been closed. Our Disaster Management call centre is currently experiencing high call volumes,” read the municipality’s statement.
The KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and ER24 confirmed at least four fatalities by late afternoon on Tuesday, while the Health Department reported that two patients were killed when a wall collapsed at Prince Mshiyeni Hospital.
ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak said one man was killed when two shipping containers fell on the car he was travelling in on Rotterdam Road in Bayhead.
Vermaak said paramedics were alerted to several vehicles under water along the N2.
“Some of the incidents include a family trapped inside their home when it flooded in Barlew Mews, an ambulance that overturned, leaving two medical crew injured along the N2 in Umgababa, two taxis that collided in Magabeni and several other distress calls,” said Vermaak.
Paul Herbst of IPSS Medical Rescue said his team responded to an incident in uMlazi D section, where a creche close to a river had flooded.
“The teacher from the creche managed to grab three of the children. Unfortunately a fourth child got swept down to the river in the floods.
“We are currently conducting a search down river, the river is still flowing very strong,” Herbst said.
Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said that in Nquthu local municipality, an eight-year-old girl was struck by lightning and in KwaMngxangala area, a 46-year-old man drowned while trying to cross an overflowing river.