By KALUME KAZUNGU
More than 600 families in Lamu County have been left in the cold after their houses were submerged by ravaging floods.
The floods, which mostly affected Chalaluma, Moa and Dide Waride villages in Witu Division, Lamu West were caused by River Tana and the Nyongoro tributary which broke their banks recently due to the ongoing heavy rains.
Local administrators who talked to the Nation Tuesday morning said a total of 87 houses had been submerged in Moa while 70 others were also submerged in Chalaluma.
Another 56 houses had also been submerged in Dide Waride village.
Those living in the affected areas are mostly pastoralist communities.
Other villages affected by the floods in Lamu are those in Mkunumbi and Hongwe wards, including Marafa, Jericho, Jipendeni, Salama, Lumshi, Zebra, Juhudi, Sinambio, Mavuno and Amkeni.
According to the Kenya Red Cross Society’s Lamu branch Coordinator Kauthar Alwy, a total of 445 families have been affected by the floods.
Ms Alwy said she had already deployed a team to all the affected areas to assess the situation and compile a report that will establish the exact number of flood victims to enable them plan on how to give them relief aid.
ASSESSMENT TEAM SENT
“I dispatched a team to the ground this week to undertake assessment of the households affected by the floods. By today (Tuesday), a total of 445 households had been assessed, particularly in Mkunumbi and Hongwe Wards. We expect the number of flood victims to increase after we finalise the assessment this week,” said Ms Alwy.
Mr Bonea Abadima, who is the chairman of Chalaluma village Nyumba Kumi, pleaded with both the county and national governments and well-wishers to urgently intervene and help the residents set up temporary shelters elsewhere after they were rendered homeless by the floods.
According to Mr Abadima, Chalaluma village alone has more than 200 households, most of which have been affected by the ravaging floods.
ROAD CUT OFF
The road from Chalaluma to Moa is currently impassable due to flooding and it can only be accessed using a boat or helicopter.
“We’ve over 200 houses here in Chalaluma and most of them are already surrounded by dirty water as a result of the floods. The situation is worrying. Our toilets and pit latrines have been destroyed. I am concerned that the situation might result to outbreak of diseases especially those brought by use of dirty water. There has been an increase of mosquitos since the flooding begun. I call on well-wishers to assist us with mosquito nets, tents, food, water and medicine,” said Mr Abadima.
Mrs Zeinab Kulisa appealed to the government and non-governmental organisations to consider taking relief supplies to their village.
Mrs Kulisa said most families in Chalaluma are already facing hunger since the floods started wreaking havoc in their village a few days ago.
She said most of the families have lost their belongings, including stored food, due to the floods.
APPEAL FOR AID
“We’re really suffering. We call on the government and well-wishers to assist us with humanitarian aid,” said Mrs Kulisa.
Contacted, Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said his office, together with other partners, including the Kenya Red Cross Society, are assessing the damage with the aim of distributing relief food and tents to the affected families.
“It’s true, some houses have been destroyed by floods in Chalaluma and other areas of Witu Division. Together with other relief agencies, we’re exploring what support to give to the affected families. In fact, an assessment has been done. We’ve also requisitioned for relief food items to be distributed to the affected families,” said Mr Macharia.
The county commissioner advised those residing in low-lying areas which can easily be flooded to move to safer areas.
“There has been a trend by residents, especially those in vulnerable areas renowned for flooding, of refusing to heed calls to move to safer areas and remain hold up in their villages until they are swept away by floods. I ask villagers in all the affected areas to exercise caution by vacating their homes early in order to minimise the effects brought about by floods,” said Mr Macharia.