Sunday August 21, 2005
Tamba Borbor reports from Freetown
Some 37 villages in the Pujehun district of Southern Sierra Leone have been affected by flooding after heavy rainfall over the weekend.
The Desk Officer for Disaster Management at the Office of National Security (ONS) has confirmed this. The ONS official says that continuous rainfall throughout last week caused the two major rivers- Waanje and Moa which flows in that area to overflow their banks; causing mud-built houses close to the river banks to be washed away. With the area being a riverine region with lots of little streams and rivers, the soil soon became water logged, she explained, resulting in huge chunks of soil cutting and falling down, blocking the few motorable roads and making some areas inaccessible.
Vandy Sonnah, the Disaster Management Programme Coordinator of the Sierra Leone Red Cross, which has a field office in Pujehun, said that they started getting reports of the flooding on Monday, with their staff in Pujehun town reporting that they have been cut off.
He said by Tuesday it appeared to have spread with over 37 villages reported to be affected. Mr. Sonnah disclosed that the road from Pujehun town to Gobaru was inaccessible with residents having to use dug out canoes to move within the area. Villages like Gobaru, Dia, Taninahun, Sawula, Gbondapi, Jiworma Jagor, Jiworma Jayehun, Gbondakor, and most recently villages in the Sowa Chiefdom, like Kaipoh, Gbandajuma and lower Komende are among those reported to be seriously affected.
As a result Mr Sonnah says they have put together a team, which left the Capital city Freetown Thursday for the area in an “immediate disaster response operation.” The team led by the communications officer will move directly to the disaster area to do registration. The team will be followed by a relief truck loaded with non food items like Plastic sheets for shelter, blankets, used clothing, kitchen sets, buckets, jerry cans and soap.
The target is the most vulnerable, who are estimated to be around 10,000, with around 15,000 people affected. The Sierra Leone Red Cross is putting out an international appeal for assistance. The Disaster Management Programme Coordinator Mr. Sonnah says the immediate needs are food, shelter, water and sanitation. He says they will also be asking for medical supplies because the few drinking water spots are expected to have been contaminated by the flooding which might give rise to outbreak of diseases like cholera which thrive in areas with poor sanitation. So far there have been only one unconfirmed case of death by drowning in the village of Taninahun.