KOTA KINABALU: Rachel Marius was braving the neck-high flood at Kampung Tomposik, Inobong, in Penampang, with an aunt when she suddenly felt cramps in her legs.

They thought it was a normal cramp from the cold water, so her aunt had to pull her all the way to a relative’s house, against the strong current.

But after pulling her up to a higher level, they saw blood gushing from the 14-year-old’s legs and noticed deep cuts from the ankle right up to the knee.

“The cut was so deep that the bone was visible. She was losing so much blood and was going into a shock.

“She said she was getting sleepy, maybe due to the blood loss, and we did everything we could to keep her awake,” said Rachel’s uncle, Arthur Tan, recalling the 5pm incident on Sunday (June 30).

They quickly called for help but the police and firemen were unable to reach them immediately due to the flood.

With limited resources, cell phone batteries running out and no power supply, they turned to social media, and their distress call was picked up by a cousin – celebrity and former Akademi Fantasia contestant Velvet Aduk – who posted on her Facebook page for urgent help and shared the house location.

“Help finally came at 5.40am the following day, 12 hours after the incident, and she was rushed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital 1 for treatment,” said Tan.

He said thanks to cousins – a doctor and a trained nurse – who helped treat Rachel’s wound with the limited medical supplies they had before the wound worsened.

Slowly recovering, Tan said the doctors suspected that the cut was either caused by a machete or broken glass.

“Blood was still coming out from her wounds, and they were keeping her legs still to limit movement. Doctors would decide what to do next after the bleeding stops,” he said.

Tan said Rachel, who frequents their house, was spending her weekend with them.

“We were supposed to send her home to Kinarut that Sunday evening, but were told by her mother to send her back the following day as the road to their home was flooding.

“It was also raining at our place and we did not expect the flood would be that high, because usually, the water would be at waist-level,” said Tan.

He said when they noticed the water rising higher, they decided to move to higher grounds, adding: “It was about four feet high when we left the house, and we braved the flood towards a relative’s house which was in a hilly area. After a while, the water rose very quickly and we believe the water level at my father’s house was about eight feet high, while ours was about seven feet.”

Tan said the flood this time was the worst he had ever experienced, adding that his wife nearly drowned due to the strong currents, but was saved by relatives.

“I was carrying my four-year-old child to safety and was holding her with whatever I might have. I broke my hand last year and it has not fully recovered,” he said.

Grateful for a friend who lent his car for a day, Tan said he was able to carry out chores, including visiting his niece.

“I am just glad that nothing worse happened,” he said.