THE DELUGE

[PHOTOS] Devastating rains ravage country

Torrential rains leave trail of destruction, displacement and despair

In Summary

• Police evacuate residents after Athi River bursts its banks. 

• Buildings surrounded by water in Maua town in Meru county. 

A woman inspects a sitting room at Varsityville Estate, Ruiru on December 5, 2019.
A woman inspects a sitting room at Varsityville Estate, Ruiru on December 5, 2019.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

This year's October-November-December 'short rains' have been torrential and cataclysmic, unlike past years' rainfall, and the weatherman says storms could intensify in coming weeks.

It will be a wet Christmas.

The last time such grave flooding was experienced was 1961 during the earlier Indian Ocean dipole. El Nino caused serious flooding in 1997 but this may be much worse.

 

This latest deluge over 10 days left a trail of numbing destruction across much of the country. Lives, livestock, crops, property, roads and bridges have been washed away.

So far, 132 people have been died due to floods. Of those reported dead, more than 50 were from West Pokot where a landslide buried their houses at night.  

The Star Photojournalist Andrew Kasuku covering flooding at Varsityville Estate, Ruiru on December 5, 2019.
The Star Photojournalist Andrew Kasuku covering flooding at Varsityville Estate, Ruiru on December 5, 2019.
Image: COURTESY

In Nairobi, the flooding has rendered some roads impassable while some houses and buildings in estates like Imara Daima and Eastleigh have been surrounded by water, cut off.

Busy Jogoo Road has been flooded and Uhuru Dam in Ruiru has spilt over and caused flooding in neighbouring Varsity Ville estate and roads.

In Joska town along Kangundo Road in Machakos town, the National Police Service on Thursday evacuated residents using a helicopter after Athi River burst its banks and homes were flooded by torrents of water.

Buildings have been cut off and surrounded by water in the small town of Maua in Meru county.

In Thika, Kiambu county, 300 families in Chereni and Gichiiki villages in Thika East have been forced to flee their homes by flooding.

 

Residents living 400 metres from River Athi were displaced after the river burst its banks following downpours pounding various parts of the country.

A man wades through a flooded area at Varsityville Estate, Ruiru on December 5, 2019.
A man wades through a flooded area at Varsityville Estate, Ruiru on December 5, 2019.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

Residents were forced to spend Wednesday night in the cold as their homes were submerged by the raging waters from Athi River.

In Nakuru county, the water levels in Lake Naivasha have risen sharply in the last two weeks flooding nearby farms and structures.

After many years of drying lakes, the freshwater lake has now been merged with nearby Lake Oloidien, a saltwater body. They came together due to rains mainly in the catchment area.

Families living along River Malewa and near Nyondia Dam in Naivasha have been warned they may have to move to higher ground.

A flooded bedroom at Varsityville Estate, Ruiru on Decembe 5, 2019.
A flooded bedroom at Varsityville Estate, Ruiru on Decembe 5, 2019.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

Chairman of the Naivasha Boat Owners Association David Kilo said all rivers flowing in Lake Naivasha were full.

He said water levels in the lake have risen sharply, meaning more fish for fishermen but submerged latrines spell doom for the lake's ecosystem.

The number of permanent structures on riparian land is increasing rapidly and many, including latrines, are underwater and causing contamination.

Chairman of the Lake Naivasha Water Resources User Association (Lanarua) Enock Kiminta said more rains are expected in the Aberdares.

He said that the water level in Lake Naivasha is now 1,888.89m above sea level, an increase from 1,888.45m two weeks ago.

In Homa Bay, more than 60 families have been displaced by raging floods. Families in Karachuonyo and Ndhiwa constituencies suffered calamity and were forced to flee after their homes were flooded.

Walls of a sitting room are reflected after it flooded in Varsityville Estate, Ruiru on December 5, 2019.
Walls of a sitting room are reflected after it flooded in Varsityville Estate, Ruiru on December 5, 2019.
Image: ANDREW KASUKU

The worst affected villages in Karachuonyo are Kowuor Agindo, Konyango, Kobala and Chwowe.

Area chief George Oburu said the homeless families, which increased from 21 to 58, are camping at Osodo Primary school.

“The families have quit their homes. We appeal for humanitarian aid," Oburu said.

He said the floods also destroyed crops over more than 600 acres. The destruction was caused after River Miriu overflowed its banks. The river runs between Nyakach and Karachuonyo.

“Previously, the river used to overflow on both sides but Nyakach residents have built dykes on their side. This has made the river overflow on our side, leading to the floods,” victim Emily Awuor said.

In Ndhiwa, the worst affected villages are Kanyikela and Kanyadoto. The villages were affected after Rivers Kuja and Oyombe overflowed their banks.

The floods paralysed transport from neighbouring villages to the nearby Sukari Industries.

Business communities have suffered massive losses as they cannot access major markets in Ndhiwa, Oria, Riat and Amoyo. The same is true in many other places.

Maua town in Meru county.
DELUGE: Maua town in Meru county.
Image: COURTESY

“The river is impassible and this means we cannot access Ndhiwa town and the neighbouring markets. The floods are causing a serious business loss this year," trader George Ojowi said.

In Baringo, more than 800 residents have been displaced in Baringo South subcounty by flash floods caused by torrential rains.

More than 100 families are homeless after their houses were submerged in Ng’ambo and Sintaan villages on Thursday.

“River Perkerra broke its banks, causing the floods that let water into our homesteads. Now I'm out in the cold with my six children, not knowing where to go," Gladys Sorot said.

She said river that drains into Lake Baringo is blocked and choked by the invasive mathenge weed.

Ng’ambo Primary and Secondary schools, Sintaan Primary, the health centre, Catholic Church and the chief’s office were also flooded, so residents have nowhere dry to take shelter.

"This is the fourth day since we moved with our belongings into neighbours' congested homesteads at Lorobil and Marigat,” Sorot said.

Houses marooned by flood waters following heavy downpour at Joska in Machakos County on December 5, 2019.
Houses marooned by flood waters following heavy downpour at Joska in Machakos County on December 5, 2019.
Image: GEORGE OWITI

Marigat assistant county commissioner Austin Ochieng said no lives or livestock have been lost there.

The flood-prone villages in Baringo South were identified as Sintaan, Leswa, Rine, Longewan, Lokumkum, Eldume, Ng'ambo, Salabani, Meisori and Kabikoki.

Stella Aura, the director of the Meteorological Department, said the ongoing rains will increase on Monday countrywide.

The official forecast said there will be a reduction in the amount of rain from tomorrow until Sunday.

However, the rains around Lake Victoria and Rift Valley highlands will be sustained throughout this week and next week.

“Rainfall is expected to continue over the southern half of the country throughout the forecast period. The northern parts of the country are likely to receive some rainfall at the end of the forecast period,” according to the five-day forecast ending on Monday.

The Met department gives daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and on-need-basis forecasts.

Aura warned of misleading weather alerts provided by third parties, mostly on social media, adding that some are even charging a fee for their information, which is often inaccurate.

Affected families stare at their houses marooned by flood waters following heavy downpour at Joska in Machakos County on December 5, 2019.
Affected families stare at their houses marooned by flood waters following heavy downpour at Joska in Machakos County on December 5, 2019.
Image: GEORGE OWITI

"These are obviously people who are taking advantage of the adverse effects of the current heavy rains being experienced across the country to prey on innocent, vulnerable and unsuspecting members of the public," she said on Wednesday.

The proposed Meteorological Bill proposes registration of genuine third parties, a code of conduct for them and a three-year jail term for those spreading false weather information.

Kenyan farmers have often sued the weatherman for allegedly misleading information. They have never won a case.

"The authority is not liable for any damage, loss or injury sustained or alleged to have been sustained, by any person as a result of such person’s reliance on meteorological information provided by the authority," the Bill says.

The proposed law, published in May, aims to restructure the department domiciled in the Environment ministry and make it a separate, world-class weather authority.

It will be known as the Kenya National Meteorological Authority, with an increased, independent budget from the Treasury.


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