Abdulai Kamara, Disaster Risk Reduction Coordinator at Sierra Leone YMCA reports from the scene: Photo: Sierra Leone YMCA

At least 290 people were killed following the collapse of a hillside in the Regent area near the capital, in Greater Freetown. This tragic event took place early on the morning of 14th July, whilst most people were sleeping. At least 3000 people have been left homeless, with hundreds still missing and the death toll expected to rise.

Freetown has received heavy rain this wet season, and weather forecasts indicate further heavy rain is expected this week, which may exacerbate the flooding. There is high risk of water-borne diseases due to standing water and contamination of water sources. The on-going heavy rainfall and flooding is hindering access to affected communities for needs assessment and relief distribution.

Abdulai Kamara, Disaster Risk Reduction Coordinator at Sierra Leone YMCA has since visited the scene.

“Thank you for your thoughts and prayers towards us in this moment of grief. The situation is serious and damaging especially for a Post-Ebola country that is still trying to get back to her feet.

 

“Water borne diseases are likely to spring partly because all of the dead bodies are yet to be exhumed; some are still decomposing on a daily basis. The water dam is situated few kilometers away from where the incident took place.

“I think another thing worth sharing at the moment is the coping mechanism of the survivors of the disaster and the relatives of the deceased ones. Some are sharing bed with other relatives and friends who have not been or badly affected. Others are currently using one community school for temporary shelter. They queue in at the registration centres for food and other relief items.

Photo: Sierra Leone YMCA

Photo: Sierra Leone YMCA

“School going children who have been affected also need immediate attention before schools resume in September.

“From my personal observation yesterday at the scene, I think the community has the resilience to bounce back.”

International Citizen Service volunteers  currently on placement in Makeni and Kenema are all safe and were not in the vicinity of the mudslides. We are keeping in close touch with our partners in Sierra Leone to provide relevant updates on our staff and volunteers.

Humanitarian response efforts are focused on three main areas: rescuing people from the mudslides, responding to the floods, and preventing further disasters in at-risk areas. Joint rapid assessments are on-going and a clearer picture of humanitarian needs should be available soon.

Our partners are active in some of the flood-affected communities in Freetown, where we have been supporting communities to be better prepared to cope with disasters such as this. Community-based Disaster Management Committees have mobilised community members to evacuate to higher ground, minimising loss of life.

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