KENTON Foafasi was still packing his family’s belonging at their Koa Hill home when Mataniko river bursts its bank last Thursday.
“All of a sudden the waters and debris came rushing through,” the 24-year-old recalled as he lay in his hospital bed at the National Referral Hospital last weekend.
“Our house was the first to be taken by the rushing waters at Koa Hill,” Mr Foafasi said.
“There was no time to escape. It happened so suddenly, that the next minute you realised you are further down the river,” he added.
After lunch last Thursday, Mr Foafasi, who has completed his degree studies at the University of the South Pacific (USP) last year, said they realised the water level rising.
“We decided to pack our things to move to higher ground,” he said.
He and members of his household were still in the process of doing that when he heard a roaring noise coming down the river.
“It was like noise from a vehicle rushing towards our house. It’s like a truck going on a high speed,” he recalled.
“Our house was the first to be pulled out by the flash flood because we resided right next to the river bank.
“There were four of us in the house then, including my mother, sister and brother in-law.”
Mr Foafasi said the water was so strong.
“The moment it took our house, it also dispersed us.
“When I looked around, I realised my mother, sister and brother in-law were all further down the river.
“It was at that moment too that I realised my aunt was struggling in the flooded waters.
“I attempted to help her but the water was too strong for anyone to help another person.
“After my futile efforts, I let go of her as the waters carried me away. I later found my aunt died in the floods. It was heartbreaking.”
Mr Foafasi said as the water carried him away, he met three boys floating on a pile of timbers. He joined them.
As they floated further down from Koa Hill, they saw the roof of a house that was uprooted by the floods, and got on top of it.
Approaching the old Mantaniko bridge, Mr Foafasi said they realised a large amount of debris, as well as logs and timbers were stacked against the bridge.
“At the point, we decided to jump out from the roof we were sitting.
“Before we reached the bridge, I lost sight of the three boys.
“For me, I realised then that it’s now a matter of life and death. If I got trapped in the debris, I would get killed.
“So I decided to take a dive as I come towards the bridge. The next minute, I realised I was on the other side.
“I did the same thing when I came to the bigger bridge further down,” he said.
Coming out on the other of the second bridge, Mr Foafasi grabbed hold of a log, held on to it and floated out in the open sea.
The currents took him towards the central market coastline, and later towards the Solomon Islands Ports area.
At around 6.30pm, a boat located him outside the Ports area.
“As they came to pick me up, I was suddenly taken by the voice of a woman shouting for help not far from where I am.
“After they picked me up, we went and pick up the woman who was also a victim of the flood.”
Mr Foafasi was taken to hospital where he was admitted for a day before being discharged last Saturday.
He later found out that his mother, sister, and brother in-law all survived the flooding.
“This is an experience I will never forget. I can only thank God for giving me the chance to live.
“I know without God, I could not make it.”
By STEPEHEN DIISANGO