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Kenyans in the US join hands to survive Hurricane Florence

Saturday September 15 2018
Florence

Volunteers from all over North Carolina help rescue residents and their pets from their flooded homes during Hurricane Florence September 14, 2018 in New Bern, North Carolina. PHOTO | GETTY IMAGES | AFP

By CHRIS WAMALWA

ALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA,

Most Kenyans living along the coastal cities of North and South Carolina heeded calls to evacuate areas that were to bear the brunt of Hurricane Florence.

So far, no Kenyan has been reported dead in the aftermath of the hurricane that made landfall on Friday morning.

NO WAIT

One of them is John Wasike, who lives and works at a hotel in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Speaking to Sunday Nation from Kari, in Raleigh-Durham, Mr Wasike said he loaded in his car, certificates, memorabilia such as pictures and everything else he considered essential, and left at the crack of dawn on Thursday.

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“I left Wilmington like a woman leaving home after a disagreement with her partner. I didn’t want to wait to see what happens because if something happens to me, nobody will know as there are not many Kenyans in Wilmington," he said.

He is staying with his childhood friend from Kitale in Kari.

It’s understood that very few Kenyans live in coastal towns most affected by the hurricane.

Most of those in North and South Carolina live in Raleigh, Charlotte and Charleston.

NO DEATHS OF KENYANS

Florence made landfall as a hurricane near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, on Friday morning.

It is now a tropical storm but will continue to threaten North and South Carolina with powerful winds and catastrophic freshwater flooding. Its top sustained winds have dropped to 70 mph and it's at a near standstill, moving west at just three mph.

Tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles from their center.

Florence is producing tropical storm-force wind gusts in Florence, South Carolina, about 60 miles from the coast, the National Hurricane Center said.

Late Saturday, Captain George Njue, a Kenyan community leader who also lives in Raleigh, said no Kenyans had been reported dead as a result of the hurricane.

He told the Sunday Nation that most Kenyans living in the hinterland agreed to open their doors for their compatriots from the coastal towns who needed a place to ride the storm. 

“Places like Raleigh and Charlotte are pretty far from either Myrtle Beach or Wilmington so they are likely to be spared the brunt force of the hurricane. That is why we encouraged Kenyans from those places to come and take cover over here," he said.

"This place is relatively safe despite the heavy rains and occasional loss of power."

POWER OUTAGE

Mr Isaac Kuria who also lives in Kari, said his neighbourhood had experienced an extensive black-out as expected.

“We knew this was likely to happen so most people prepared adequately. Most people bought generators, torches and candles in case electricity was cut-off," Mr Kuria said.

He was not sure when power would be restored.

On Thursday, Kenyan born immigration attorney Jeff Matemu, of Raleigh, sent a message to Kenyans living in North and South Carolina and Virginia, asking them to heed authorities' calls to evacuate.

“Please don’t think this is something you can ride out. The storm is proving to be deadly so don’t take chances,” said Mr Matemu, who is contesting a congressional seat for the 2nd District of North Carolina on a libertarian party ticket.

He posted the message on social media.

Speaking to Sunday Nation on Saturday, he also asked Kenyans to stay updated and follow advisories by emergency management authorities at the state and local levels.

“Anything can be replaced but not life," he said.

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