Floods death toll hits 116 as three more drown in Bomet

Thursday, April 30th, 2020 00:00 |
Excavators dig trenches at Mugutha village in Juja, Kiambu county. Residents are racing against time to clear waterways. Photo/PD/MATHEW NDUNGU

Noah Cheploen, Felix Yegon  and Wangari Njuguna

Three more people have drowned in Bomet bringing the death toll by floods and landslides in the area to 28.

This comes as Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said 116 people have died so far and more than 100,000 families displaced across the country with Rift Valley, Nyanza and Tana River bearing the brunt of the calamity. 

Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya yesterday described the flood situation in the region as dire as the number of people affected keeps rising.

“The situation is bad but we hope the rains are going to subside next week as forecast by the meteorological department,” he said, adding that West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kericho and Narok are worst affected. 

The official said two people were killed by floods in Kipkelion, Kericho county while two children suffered a similar fate in Ololung’a in Narok county.

"We had a landslide in Aldai (Nandi) but fortunately no life was lost. Two villages are marooned by water in Trans Mara,” he added.

“We are still pleading with people living in flood and landslide-prone areas to move to higher areas,” said Natembeya.

He said the Government was still monitoring the situation in West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties where more than 70 people have perished in landslides in the last seven months.

The worst incident occurred last November when 53 people died after massive landslides hit Nyarkulian and Parua villages in West Pokot.

The landslides which were triggered by hours of heavy rains also cut off a section of the Kitale-Lodwar road near Ortum.

Natembeya told the People Daily on phone that an administration police officer who had been rescued from Chesogon landslide succumbed to injuries in hospital.

A woman crosses River Chania in Nyeri county. The crossing, which connects Nyeri Town and Mathira constituencies, was damaged a month ago. However the county government has pledged to build a permanent one soon. Photo/PD/ JOSEPH KING’ORI

“Six people had been admitted in hospital.  A university girl is the only one remaining in hospital,” he said.

Residents said more than 20 people are still missing after the April 18 tragedy. At the same time, Bomet County Commissioner Geoffrey Omoding said three people died in separate incidents in the last five days. 

Yesterday, speaking during the Covid-19 daily briefing,  Wamalwa said 24 counties had been affected by floods but assured Kenyans that the State had put in place mitigation measures.

“Last year, we started with drought in the early part of the year, then we had floods beginning September and towards the end of the year we had locusts.

Indeed our nation is a resilient one but our resilience has been tested in the last one year, said Wamalwa.

He said over 40,000 bags of rice and other food and non-food items have been dispatched to the counties affected.

“The families affected need our support…” he said. Hundreds of animals have been killed and property worth millions of shillings destroyed. 

He urged counties to ensure that guidelines issued by Ministry of Health such as social distancing are observed even in the temporary camps where displaced families have sought refuge. 

Displaced families

More than 1,800 families displaced by floods in Garissa county after river Tana burst its banks three days ago have started receiving food rations.

In the Bomet deaths, the three people died while trying to cross—separately—the swollen Kagasik, Sisei and Kipsonoi rivers in Sotik and Chepalungu.

Speaking when he flagged off maize flour to be distributed to 2,700 vulnerable people from across the county, Omoding said the most affected sub-counties were Sotik and Chepalungu where floods have destroyed crops and houses.

The relief food valued at Sh500,000 was donated by National Government Affirmative Action Funds (NGAAF) through Bomet Woman Rep Joyce Korir.

In Nakuru, more than 300 families have been displaced at Ndabibi in Maela Ward, Naivasha  following heavy rains that have been pounding the area for the last one week.

Nakuru County chief of staff Njoroge Gichuhi, who led a team of  officials, including engineers and Kenya Red Cross Society leadership, on a fact-finding mission in the area, said property running into millions of shillings had been destroyed.

Meanwhile, transport in the county, especially in Rongai sub-county has been paralysed after a number of bridges were swept away. In some areas, residents were forced to wade through waters to access shopping centres.

Elsewhere, approximately 200 families from Mt Kenya region have been affected by the destruction caused by the ongoing rains the Red Cross region manager Mugambi Gitonga has said.

Mugambi said most families have been affected by floods and few by landslides with Murang’a being the hardest hit. Kiambu, Nyeri and Kirinyaga take second, third and fourth positions respectively. 

Speaking during his tour in Murang’a, the regional manager said most of the families have lost their entire livelihood and they need assistance to start their lives afresh. He said about 5,000 acres of plantation have been destroyed and this threatens food security in the area. 

“We have had several incidents of landslides reported, luckily no deaths have been reported but we have 10 families whose houses were totally destroyed” he said.

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