LIBERIA: Flood relief efforts continue

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hundreds of residents along Monrovia’s coast have lost, or are still blocked from their homes nearly two months after storms started on 20 July 2008, according to relief workers.

The Liberian Red Cross Society estimates flooding has affected about 1,400 people.

Red Cross relief worker Pappie Toe, said efforts are still underway to assist flood victims who have been sheltering with family and friends. “We give them food as well as medicine. And another package is given to families [whose] conditions are more critical.”

John Sah, a father of six, told IRIN he is still not able to go home. “The situation is frustrating us. Our house was filled with water. We had to rush kids out immediately [after the storms in July 2008]. We are seeking refuge here until the water can be reduced. But it is a terrible situation for my family.”

The Red Cross’ director of health and disaster management, Kokpar Wohwoh, said the most damaged communities are coastal areas on the outskirts of Monrovia, including Banjor, Popo Beach, Hotel Africa and King Gray. “We are still monitoring these communities to make sure they are safe for living.”

Coastal communities still vulnerable

Government officials say these coastal communities are at higher risk for flooding and water damage because rising sea waters along the Gulf of Guinea, which are linked to climate change, have pushed the ocean dangerously close to seaside homes.

Officials with Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said another reason for this year’s intense flooding is the city’s clogged drainage system.

EPA’s deputy director, Jerome Yenkan, told IRIN new business constructions have obstructed parts of the drainage system by illegally building over it. “We have taken a decision to drastically deal with people who [obstruct] water paths [the drainage pipe system].” he said.

This year’s flooding has prompted the national government to set up its first disaster control committee in charge of preventing and responding to floods.