SIERRA LEONE LANDSLIDE AND FLOODS DAILY UPDATES WEEK ONE CONSOLIDATED REPORT (14-20 AUGUST 2017)
On 14 August 2017 Regent Village around the Sugar Loaf area in the Western Mountain communities of Freetown experienced the biggest and most devastating incident of landslide which took the lives of hundreds of its inhabitants. The Sugar loaf community is a neighbour to Charlotte Village, a serene and cozy atmosphere of fresh air which gives heaven to its inhabitants. That part of Freetown is the dream habitat of many Sierra Leoneans because of its rich history and amazingly beautiful landscape. On the other side of the village lies it’s most treasured possession – a bubbling waterfall. The water flows with such strength that one would immediately think of its hydro-electric potential which could serve as a source of light and energy for the community.
Charlotte became prominent about 72 years ago when after torrential rains for close to a week, (4 – 11) one of the hills overlooking the settlement gave up part of its body and in a mixture of rain water and mud flowed treacherously in a landslide creating a dam across the fast flowing stream which subsequently washed away some seven houses.
This was 11th August 1945 at about 4pm and it was recorded as the worst landslide ever to be experienced in Sierra Leone. Every year, Sierra Leone experiences flooding where poorly constructed houses on wet lands and mountain tops are often swept away by torrential rains.
Many times during these disasters epidemics such as Cholera, typhoid and Diarrhoea result in additional casualties from such situations leading to complex emergencies requiring swift humanitarian response. This year on 14 August 2017, Freetown experienced a similar but much bigger magnitude of landslide and floods leaving more than 300 inhabitants dead. Relatives, Government agencies, volunteers of SLRCS and other community volunteers were left digging a huge pile of mud which submerged more than 25 houses and destroying nearly 100 houses and displacing between 3,000 to 6,000 people.
Fears that unrecovered dead bodies in the floods and rubbles pose threat of disease following flooding and landslide caused by the heavy down pour of rain in Freetown are rising.
The rains continue to pour heavily as 100 SLRCS volunteers and staff divided into First Aid Emergency Action Teams, recovery and burial, Psychosocial Support (PSS), Psychological First Aid, Reuniting separated Families (RFL), hygiene promotion and delivering of food and non-food items, working
collaboratively with other stakeholders, including the Office of National Security, Ministries of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs, Defence, Health and Sanitation as they support the suffering displaced and affected families.
Since 14 August 2017, SLRCS volunteers and staff deployed in the field have been busy transferring bodies of corpses from the affected communities to the mortuaries, evacuating and providing PSS and RFL assistance to injured victims in the hospitals and helping in the search and recovery and burial of those still trapped in the rubbles of collapsed buildings.