Flooding Calamity upon Ebola Catastrophe in Freetown, Sierra Leone

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Member since March 17, 2015
  • 85 Posts
  • Age 24

In midst of fighting the deadly Ebola virus, our city of Freetown, experienced exceptionally heavy rain on 16th September 2015, which caused the worst flooding in history of Sierra Leone. The calamity left 7 confirmed dead and almost 60% of the city roads were flooded. Over 100 houses were destroyed, vehicles were submerged in water and properties worth millions of Leones have been damaged. All at the same time as the remaining positive cases of Ebola are still knocking at our door and in the community of Sella Kefa in the Kambia District, over 300 people are still under quarantine. With all these disasters compiling, one may begin to ask, where are we heading for as a nation?

I sat in my house on Wednesday September 16th around noon, thinking about how we could finally rid my country Sierra Leone of Ebola, when I heard people crying live on the radio. They were from one of the communities where their properties and their family members had been drowned by a heavy storm of rain water.

At first I thought this was a small issue. Indeed I knew that there was a heavy down pour of rain as I had received a phone call from my little sister, who was crying bitterly because their properties had been carried away by flooding in their area. But thanks to Almighty they were safe. As the crying from people on the radio still continued, it was upsetting and alarming and I cried with them, even though I was safe where I was.

Worst of all I felt terrified and horrible when I saw the awful pictures and videos from friends updating us via Whatsapp. It immediately took me back to my memories of what happened in the Ebola outbreak and the flooding disasters that occurred in some other districts few months back. Then I told myself ‘This is Flooding calamity upon Ebola catastrophe’. I wanted to witness the scenes and I started the journey but it was far from where I was, it was raining heavily and there was a lot of water on the road that even, so much that you could easily drown. I was forced to stay but I could not sleep for being scared.

Fortunately there were Plan staff and other young people who were able to carry out interviews, household assessment and took some photographs and video footages of the scenes.

School pupils could not get access to cross the road to get back home, only very strong swimmers could make it, which reminded me of Charles Darwin’s “survival of the fittest”. I heard on the radio that the government had sent in military and police personnel as rescue teams and the National Stadium was declared free accommodation for all affected, while the government held discussions on what can be done for these people. One of the young people told me “What I saw with my two eyes in this flooding is very bad and I want to say Sierra Leone we are in trouble if something urgent is not done”. People live in many risky places, including in slums, in Freetown and something must be done to protect them.

Who suffered the most?

It is always true that in emergencies or disasters, children, women and the aged are the most vulnerable. From the report I heard from radio Democracy, which was covering the scenes, four children, two elderly people and one woman were confirmed drowned or dead from injuries. Meanwhile the radio also reported that there are still other missing victims, mostly children, whose search is still in progress.

The next day

It was on this September 17th 2015 that the government imposed a curfew, asking people to stay at home in an attempt to curb the Ebola virus disease. Fortunately for me, I was able to visit the National stadium in the early morning of Thursday where over six hundred affected people were converged.

Meanwhile I was listening to the radio and heard that the Ministry of Social Welfare was supplying breakfast to these people, but with what I saw in that stadium that food was not enough. However, I was happy to see special food catered separately for children and pregnant women. Although this too was not enough. I spoke to two of the affected people regarding what can be done, they told me they have nowhere to go and hence need aid. Some other young people were disgruntled and worried but did not want to speak with me.

My Recommendations

Let us not tolerate late responses anymore, as happened during the outbreak of Ebola. The government has the responsibility to protect its citizens and their properties. Therefore the government and the international community must do all they can to respond urgently to prevent such disasters in future and in support those affected by this current crisis.

They must harness all efforts and resources to ensure history does not repeat itself again. They must build special communities or settlements for these people and provide them with food and non-food items to reimburse their status. As young people, our role in this is crucial and we have manifested this in the Ebola endemic.

Young people should be trained with skills to embark on sensitization activities to inform and help people and become resilient when disasters occur. Young people including those affected, should be involved in the planning, budgeting on to the implementation and monitoring stages of projects around responding to emergencies or disasters.

This blog post was written by Kamanda Kamara.

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