Lost grip: Wife swept from husband by raging flood

JAGDISH Chand is a tormented man. He is devastated he could not hold on to his wife’s hand as they fled in floodwaters that engulfed their Vatulaulau home in Ba last Sunday.

“My heart is broken,” the devastated 50-year-old shared as he recalled the harrowing ordeal.

Still bearing injuries sustained during the incident, he said his family was caught off-guard by the intensity of the floods brought on by rain dumped by Tropical Cyclone Josie.

He said he never imagined the water would turn violent and take the life of his wife, Saroj Lata, just minutes after they decided to move to higher ground.

Mr Chand said he knew things would worsen the moment he saw the water level rising very quickly.

“At first, I didn’t think too much of it.

“We had flooding before but never to this extent but we were still cautious.

“About 7am, we noticed the water had started to come in from the back of the house and we knew we had to leave.

“We prepared to leave but then, the water started coming from the opposite direction as well.

“When we left our home, my young son and wife were with me and the water was below our knees.

“By the time we reached a Fiji Electricity Authority power pole just a few metres away, the water level rose to our waists. That’s how quickly the water level rose.”

They held on to the power pole as neighbours watched helplessly.

The raging currents kept at bay those who wanted to help.

Mr Chand said all he could remember was him clinging to the power pole with one hand and his wife with the other.

He wasn’t sure when a tree branch hit his head.

Disoriented, he let go of the pole. Soon after he realised he could no longer feel his wife’s grip.

“I don’t know what happened but our hands slipped and she was swept away.

“When I let go, I was swept away too. I remember the neighbours yelling at my son to hold on or else he would be swept away too, and he did.”

Mr Chand said he drifted with the water and was assisted by some iTaukei boys.

The first thing he wanted to do was find his wife.

The body of the mother of three was retrieved several hours later at Maururu.

He tearfully shared that his wife of 28 years was also his closest friend.

“In all the years we were together, she was always by my side. We never fought and she was very special to me.”

He said while he had suffered about $70,000 in damage to his property, losing his wife was the hardest.

“At the end of the day, there’s no price that can be put on a life.”

Relatives and close friends of the Chand family arrived yesterday to assist with cleaning up and to also prepare for funeral arrangements.

More Stories