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Two killed, hundreds displaced as River Nzoia bursts banks

Sunday May 3 2020

Shibale on Mumias-Bungoma road

A man looking at a crack on a bridge at Shibale on Mumias-Bungoma road on May 3, 2020 after River Nzoia burst its banks. PHOTO | ISAAC WALE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

VICTOR RABALLA
By VICTOR RABALLA
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Two deaths have been reported in Busia County after River Nzoia burst its banks and displaced over 40,000 people.

Hundreds others are marooned by the raging waters that has submerged villages in Budalangi sub-county and Alego Usonga in Siaya County.

A joint operation effort led by Kenya Coast Guard Service and disaster management and humanitarian assistance organisations traversed the expansive area tying to rescue people trapped in their homes after flash floods hit the region on Friday night.

The body of a two-year-old girl and a boy aged 24 who died at Busagwa area is yet to be retrieved while the situation has been made worse by waters whose levels continue to rise daily.

"We are only relying on one boat after other vessels were moved to Mageta Island to rescue people after a water bus capsized in Lake Victoria on Saturday evening," said Mr Thomas Mango of Busia Community Development Organization.

Due to the shallow waters experienced in some areas, the rescue boats could not access some areas.

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"We are overwhelmed by calls from desperate people who have been trapped in their houses," said Mr Mango who is in charge of the operation.

The areas affected include Bunyala Central, Khajula, Bunyala South, Bunyala West, Bunyala East and Bunyala North.

The flood victims are being are being evacuated to 15 designated rescue centres including primary schools.

Due to the government directive to avoid overcrowding at the camps as a way of curbing the spread Covid-19, the locals are being discouraged from integrating with their friends and relatives.

While the classrooms are ideally expected to accommodate at least one family, Mr Mango said they have been forced to place up to three families.

Hundred other families have pitched tent along highways in Nyadorera, Rwambwa and Mudembi where over 90 per cent of the buildings were submerged.

Mrs Angelina Ajwang, 73, from Nyadorera termed the calamity the worst to have ever happened since 1962.

"The build-up started gradually on Friday before it rapidly rose on Saturday. My chicken and other valuables have been swept downstream but I am happy to be alive," she said.

The limited space at the nearby Dibuoro Primary School forced some members of her extended family members to be locked out of the camp.

"We spent the night in the cold by the roadside and had to withstand the rains together with our young children," she told the Nation.

The affected residents are now calling on donors, well-wishers and Siaya County government to offer donations of tarpaulin tents to the victims who have no place to go.

In Nyando, the devastating effect of the floods continues to attract overwhelming support from well-wishers and donor agencies with the national and county governments being called upon to provide a lasting solution to the perennial crisis.

Help from Kenyans living in the US also saw approximately 3,000 people benefiting from blankets, foodstuff such as maize flour, maize and sugar worth Sh500,000.

The donation that was distributed in camps in Nyando, Muhoroni and parts of Kisumu East came through Kano Empowerment Association (KEA) and Kavirondo Men’s Group.

KEA Secretary General Dr George Anyumba challenged governors to use resources available to tackle the challenges they are experiencing.

“Our people can’t keep on suffering due to the flood menace since independence yet a lasting solution to this problem can be found. We need a serious dialogue on how to tackle it once and for all,” he said.

Mr Silas Odhiambo who coordinated the programme said the four-day exercise will deliver the supplies to the vulnerable members in Lela, Masogo, Ong’eche, Bwanda, Kakola Ombaka among other places in the expansive Kano area.