A two-year-old girl has died after being ripped off her mum’s shoulders in powerful floodwaters with her helpless family forced to watch as the toddler disappeared beneath the waves.
Ivy Collins, aged two-and-a-half, was separated from her loved ones after her home in Eskdale, in Hawke’s Bay New Zealand, was inundated with floodwaters this week.
Her parents, Ella and Jack Collins, woke at 3am on Tuesday to find their home quickly filling up with water in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.
The couple quickly grabbed their daughters, Ivy and her older sister Imogen, and were trying to leave when a giant wave swept through their one-storey home.
The children’s uncle, Adam Collins, said the couple were forced to make a snap decision to take a child each and try to climb onto their neighbour’s roof.
As they made their way through the pitch black house another wave hit the family, knocking Ella, who is pregnant with her third child, off her feet.
Ivy Collins, aged two-and-a-half, was swept away from her loved ones after her home in Eskdale, New Zealand, was filled to the brim with rampant floodwaters
New Zealand’s North Island has been struck by heavy rain, flooding, gale-force winds and giant surf in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle this week
Mr Collins said his brother managed to ‘scramble’ onto the house and put Imogen on the roof before desperately trying to locate his youngest daughter.
‘He doesn’t know if he’s coming back… he finds his wife floating around and manages to get her back to safety… but by that time they’d lost the little one,’ he told the NZ Herald.
‘There’s nothing they could’ve done… she had her on her shoulders and she slipped out, her feet were taken out from underneath.’
Ivy’s father spent several hours searching for his little girl in their water-logged house, calling out her name and climbing a nearby tree.
The family and their neighbours were eventually found by search and rescue teams eight hours after their home first began filling with water.
They were all suffering hypothermia by the time they were found.
Ivy’s body was located by crew members on Wednesday, not far from where she was ripped from her mother’s back by the powerful wave.
Ms Collins confirmed the two-year-old had died on Facebook on Thursday, asking they were given time to ‘ground ourselves and navigate this impossible time’.
A New Zealand family has been left heartbroken after their two-year-old daughter Ivy Collins, pictured centre, was swept away from their home by a powerful wave
‘Our youngest daughter Ivy has drowned and died in the flash flooding, she was almost 2½, it was an unavoidable accident and she died very quickly,’ she wrote.
‘Search and Rescue have found her body, Jack and I have identified her. She is with the coroner before being taken to our chosen funeral home.’
Ms Collins said she her home, her treasured garden, and all the family’s belongings had been destroyed in a matter of hours.
‘The water was about 10cm from the ceiling in our house and rose extremely quickly and violently,’ she said.
‘We were unable to make it to higher ground due to a sudden torrent of water which almost drowned us all and took Ivy.’
She described her husband Jack as a f***ing hero and said he was the only reason her family and their neighbours had survived.
The post was quickly flooded with messages of support.
Clean up efforts have begun in New Zealand in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle as fresh storm warnings are announced across the country (pictured, debris near Napier on Wednesday)
‘Words cannot express how sorry we are to hear the devastating news of your little one Ivy and your home,’ one woman wrote.
‘I don’t know how many times I’ve read and re-read this in utter disbelief. I have no words,’ another said.
‘No words can express how sorry I am for the loss of your beautiful little girl, how incredibly cruel life can be,’ a third commented.
A fundraiser for the family has raised almost $70,000 in just 14 hours.
The organiser wrote Ivy’s mother was due to give birth to her third child in August and that her husband’s work was currently ‘on hold’.
‘Ella and her family have no home to go back to, her beautiful gardens she had worked so lovingly in to create is gone, a land full of vegies and fruit to feed her family gone,’ they wrote.
‘Hugs, love and thoughts to you all, and please donate big or small it will all mean the world to them… such giving people who now deserve our help.’
More to come.