By Morlai Kargbo
Torrential downpour of rain in the early hours of Friday, 2nd August, 2019 rendered thousands of Sierra Leoneans in the capital homeless. The rain started with little drops at around 09:00 am and generated into what would be a sorrowful day for many defenseless Sierra Leoneans, taking lives, and properties and leaving hundreds homeless. Information reaching us indicates that though it was signaled by international weather forecasts on CNN and BBC that there would be torrential downpours in the coming days, the Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency failed to adequately alert and prepare the public.
The heavy downpour of rain, which has now been estimated by the Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency as equal to the amount of rain that fell for the whole of July in 2016, took residents of Freetown, especially those living in the slum areas, by surprise.
Hardest hit areas were communities in the east end of Freetown where the drainage systems are inadequate and usually clogged up with garbage, such as Wellington, Kissy, Race Course, Up Gun, Cline Town etc., and slum settlements lying in waterways of run off from the hillsides and at the shoreline, such as Congo Cross, Congo Town, Kroo Bay, Colbot, Up Gun, and Susan’s Bay communities.
A total of seven deaths were reported, including a 35-year old woman from Kroo Bay. About 1000 people lost their homes at Colbot community, while an unspecified number was left homeless.
Family members at home and abroad were left worried over the safety of their relatives after images of Friday’s disaster went viral on social media.
“Our properties have all been swept off including monies kept in my box by the flood waters in our apartment” Isatu Kargbo, a resident of Colbot community sadly explained.
“Thank God this incident happened during the day, had it been at night, who knows what might have happened to us” she continued.
Another neighbour whose fate is as Isatu’s explained how life has become miserable for him and his family and wondered how he can get a place for his family to live.
Following a series of flood disasters during the annual rainy seasons over the years, the government has been trying to relocate inhabitants from slum communities to a safer place free from flood threats, an effort which has been deemed by many as inconsistent, ineffective and fruitless.
It may be recalled that on 14th August, 2017, a horrendous mudslide/Landslide occurred in the Mortormeh Community and flooding at Kroo Bay, due to excessive downpour of rain, which cost the lives of hundreds of Sierra Leoneans and it is feared that if immediate and effective mitigation actions are not taken by the authorities concerned, more people will suffer from similar incidents as the rainy season progresses.