LIBERIA: Floods displace hundreds in Monrovia

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Flooding has cut off piped water to a quarter million people in the capital, Monrovia, displacing hundreds of people and destroying or severely damaging homes.

“Our treatment plant is now in the flood [waters], which has affected the pumping of safe drinking water… into Monrovia,” Hun Bu Tulay, managing director of the state-owned Liberia Water and Sewage Corporation, told IRIN.

“About 250,000 people would be without piped water considering the estimated population on Bushrod Island [western Monrovia] and central Monrovia who benefit from our services,” Tulay said. He said he expected the plant to be up and running again by the afternoon of 28 August.

Heavy rains over the weekend caused flooding in Red Hill, Caldwell, Doe, St. Paul Bridge, and Gardnersville communities near the St. Paul River in Greater Monrovia and in the western part of the capital, according to the humanitarian office of the UN mission in Liberia, UNMIL.

Tulay told IRIN this is the first time in some 25 years the St. Paul River has risen to such levels.

UNMIL’s Marcus Wleh, who visited Caldwell community on 27 August, told IRIN water levels were as high as two metres in some areas.

“It’s serious. That was in Caldwell, which was not the worst hit.”

On 27 August workers with the Liberian Red Cross Society travelled throughout the communities in canoes to assess the damage.

A team of UN humanitarian officers and government officials is scheduled to conduct an assessment in the affected neighbourhoods on 28 August, Wleh told IRIN.

Hundreds of displaced people were seen on 27 August walking from the flooded areas, carrying mattresses, clothes, dishes and other belongings. Many waited at the roadside for vehicles to take them to friends’ or relatives’ homes in other parts of Monrovia.

Lucy Tamba and her four children were forced to flee their home. “The river started overflowing by Sunday evening [26 August] and before 5am on Monday morning the water had covered all of the community and entered more than 50 houses,” she told IRIN. She said her brick house was about to collapse.

Daniel Clarke, head of the Red Cross Society, said it is too early to say how many people have been affected. “The [count] is ongoing and we firmly believe they would be in the hundreds.”

Source: IRIN
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