Hundreds displaced as floods wreak havoc

Monday May 2 2016

Vehicles stuck on a flooded road in Nairobi on April 29, 2016. The heavy rains have impeded movement of people and goods in different parts of the country. PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | AFP

Vehicles stuck on a flooded road in Nairobi on April 29, 2016. The heavy rains have impeded movement of people and goods in different parts of the country. PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | AFP  

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Floods have displaced at least 6,000 people in Tebere as heavy rains continued pounding Kirinyaga County.

Local MCA Gudson Muchina said many houses have been submerged.

Some residents have been forced to flee the area. Most of those affected are from Kiamanyeki, Diabo, Kiumbu and Ndindiruku and Maisha Kamili villages.

Mr Muchina who spoke at Ngurubani Stadium in Mwea on Sunday said the victims need food and medicines, among others.

“Floods have become a major problem here. The people need assistance. The early the two levels government intervene, the better,” said Mr Muchina.

He lamented that floods have also destroyed crops in farms. “Many acres of rice and maize have been destroyed.”

In Othaya, a section of locals have defied a directive to move to higher grounds.

For instance, over 10 families are at risk of landslides as heavy rains continue to pound the hilly region of Witima.

The area has been mapped out by engineers and government officials who say landslides are imminent.

When the rains started, administrators said some nine houses were at risk of being washed away. Wide cracks have already appeared in two houses in one of the homesteads.

Nyeri South Deputy County Commissioner Stanley Kamande said locals should stay at Kiyu Primary School, which is considered much safer.

In Kisumu County, at least 100 families have been displaced by floods at Kochieng.

The families were forced to move out of their homes even as the Kenya Red Cross Society issued an alert over a likelihood of floods as rivers burst their banks.

Similarly, property, including crops, have been destroyed and livestock killed.

Mrs Mildred Naliaka who was forced to leave her home in the middle of the night said she had not received any help from the county government.

The mother of two sought refuge at her mother in-law’s house. “It rained heavily yesterday and around 1am, the house was full of water,” she said.

Mr Anna Ouma, a widow and a mother of five, said the situation worsened around 2am.

“The waters got into the house with so much force. Neighbours helped us to move to a safer place. My greatest worry is that my family has nowhere to go. The county government is yet to help us since the tragedy struck,” she said.

Mr Samuel Oron, Nyando Sub-County administrator said most of the families living along river Korowe had their homes destroyed.

Kenya Red Cross western Kenya Regional Manager Benson Simba has asked communities in flood prone areas of Kisumu, Budalang’i, Vihiga and South Nyanza to move to higher grounds.

Mr Simba said they are monitoring water levels around Budalang'i, Vihiga, Nyando, Muhoroni, Nyatike Karachuonyo, Homa Bay, Nyakach and other flood prone areas.

He said water levels in the major rivers — Nyando, Nzoia and Kuja — have been rising over the past weeks.

“We are advising communities to move to safer grounds. In the meantime, Kenya Red Cross has built the capacity of its response teams who are on stand-by across the region,” he said.

Western Kenya has been cited as the most vulnerable to flooding. In the past years, floods have displaced thousands of families, destroyed property and even caused deaths.

Last year, at least 1,500 people were displaced following floods in Kisumu. Ten primary schools were also submerged.

In Kisumu County, villages around Chiga, Nyalenda, Ayweyo, Manyatta, Nyakach and Ombeyi have been cited as being at the greatest risk of flooding.

“We are monitoring the situation to ensure quick response,” said Mr Simba adding strong winds have also become a problem to locals. We are also watching areas of Kisumu, Homa Bay and even Migori which traditionally flood-prone. We are working with other agencies to ensure timely and well-coordinated response across the region,” said Mr Simba.

He said they identified rescue centres in schools and other areas. “We are prepared to support up to a thousand households. We are collecting data on a daily basis and advising residents that whenever there are warnings, they should obey to avoid loss of lives and destruction of property,” he said.

Mr Jacob Kitiyo, Kenya Red Cross Kisumu County manager, said rescue teams have been dispatched to the affected areas.

“We are prepared. We have stocked mosquito nets, blankets, foodstuffs and medicines to support affected families. We will ensure we help where necessary.”

Mr Eric Odida, the director of special programmes in the Kisumu county government, said all the Sh70 million that was allocated to mitigate the effects of El Niño has been exhausted.

“We do not have any money left but we have instructed our officers to asses the situation to see how we can help those affected,” said Mr Adida.

By use of canals, all rivers have been directed into one waterway to reduce floods. “The problem is that River Ombeyi which acts as the mother of them all burst its banks,” he Mr Odida.

Also, heavy weekend rains in Kajiado County destroyed roads and flooded streets in the town.

In Kitengela Town, the road leading to the market was heavily flooded making traders have a hard time accessing the market.

Eunice Njeri, a trader at the market, says they have incurred massive losses since the rains started.

Ms Njeri called upon the national and county governments to find a solution to the problem.

“Many sections of the market will have to be closed if the rains continue. The situation is getting desperate, we need a solution,” said the trader.

Other impassable roads in Kitengela include the one leading to Noonkopir Estate. Residents are forced to park their cars in the town and walk to their houses.

Some are using a hand car cross to the estate. Isinya River, Athi River and Olkejuado River have burst their banks but no casualties have been reported.

Leaders from Garba Tulla town in Isiolo County have decried the heavy rains that have been causing power blackouts.

They said there have been outages for four days now. Isiolo South MP Abdulahi Banticha said the Kenya Power and Lighting Company has not responded even after they reported the matter.

“We cannot save people in the darkness in case of floods due to the heavy rainfall. Kenya Power should hurry and give us a solution,” said Mr Banticha.

Garba Tulla Deputy County Commissioner Kipchumba Rutto said business in government offices have also been affected by the erratic power supply and called on the company to intervene.

Business people in Tharaka Sub-County are counting loss after heavy rains rendered the two major roads that link to Meru County impassable.