Kenya flood victims get relief

Written by Stephanie Kriner,
The heavy rains came down on Kenya for the entire month of May, swirling up floodwaters not seen in the drought-ridden country since 1998, when 1,000 people were killed.

As the rains kept falling, the murky flood waters swept away roads and broke through bridges. Mudslides roared down denuded mountainsides, plowing into villages below, and stories of burying entire families in their sleep.

At least 53 people died during the deluge, and 150,000 lost their homes. Many more lost their crops, their farmlands destroyed.

The widespread flooding occurred in western, southwestern and central Kenya, hitting the districts of Kisumu, Nyando, Migori and Busia the hardest.

The disaster left thousands reliant on outsiders for survival, and relief organizations have been rallying to bring them shelter, food, medication (particularly to fight malaria, typhoid and cholera) and clean drinking water. The American Red Cross contributed $10,000 to an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies appeal to assist 125,000 flood victims for three months.

"The immediate needs were for blankets, tarps, jerry cans (for the collection of water), mosquito nets and water purification tablets," said Christine Strater, a member of the American Red Cross International Disaster Response Unit. The floodwaters knocked down latrines and seeped into wells in the disaster zone, leaving the area prone to water- and mosquito-borne diseases.

The Kenya Red Cross was among the first responders to assess the flood-stricken area, immediately bringing blankets, tarps and other relief items to those displaced by the floods.

The country - still recovering from a drought that damaged thousands of acres of crops - will rely on international assistance well into the future for continued food aid, seeds and farming tools to replant lost crops, as well as building materials to construct new homes.


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