ACAPS Briefing Note: Sierra Leone - Floods in Freetown (7 August 2019)
Torrential rains starting from 2 August have led to flooding in Freetown.
Despite the normal peak of the rainy season in August, the soil was previously saturated by rains in July. At least 6 people are reported dead and some 5,000 people are believed to have lost their shelter. Informal settlements, including impoverished slum communities, scattered around the city and mostly built in flood or landslide prone areas, are likely the most affected and at risk of further flooding, considering the forecast rains in the coming days.
Anticipated scope and scale
Heavy rainfall is forecast to continue across Sierra Leone during the week of 2-8 August. This would lead to severe impact on people and damage to infrastructure, particularly in the densely populated northern area of Freetown. Madongo Town and New England are prone to localised flooding; Susan Bay, Lumley and Kroo Bay are prone to coastal flooding due to their location in low-lying areas and are likely to report a higher human impact as a consequence of poor shelters and dense population. Risk of mudslide is high for areas such as Regent, Leicester, Gloucester and Kissy.
5,000 people are displaced
high risk of waterborne diseases
need for clean-drinking water and sanitation facilities.
Despite a current lack of information, based on previous similar disasters, it is very likely that access is constrained due to flooded roads and bridges, debris blocking roads, and poor communication networks.
The overall number of people affected and in need remain unclear until floodwaters recede, which might take few days as rains are still ongoing. There is a lack of specific information on sectoral needs at the time of writing. Because of disruption of communication lines and electricity, the full extent of the damage is still unknown.