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24 July 2016

Floods displace over 1000 in Upper East region

RainstormFigures of the residents displaced following a rain-triggered flood disaster that struck the Upper East region this week have risen from 463 to 1,364 in two districts alone.

Disaster management experts say the toll is likely to rise as assessment tour of submerged communities across the region continues.

At Sandema, capital of the Builsa North District, 901 people so far, including children, have been either completely displaced after their houses dissolved ‘like cubes of sugar’ in floodwaters, or partially dislodged as the raging floods only punched holes in their walls and filled their rooms.

Farmlands, about 718 acres in size in the same district, are buried deep in water with the Chuchuliga Rice Support Project completely washed away. Three major dams also have been carried off by tidal waves at Kaasa and Zundema, two localities inside Siniensi in the district, and at Balansa.

Four bridges and seven culverts, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) revealed, have been swept away with several animals among other belongings still missing in floodwaters. Five major roads stretching from Sandema to Nyansa, Koti and Balansa, and from Sandema through Synyadsa to Kadema and from the same district capital through Banyansa to Kpikpaluk also have been washed away.

237 houses submerged in Builsa North District alone

237 houses submerged in Builsa North District alone

The roads between Chuchuliga and Canal, Chuchuliga and Yipala and the stretch between Weija and Kom have been rendered impassable. In Bolgatanga, the regional capital, 463 people have been displaced with several structures submerged and some 30 acres of cereal crops at Nyariga washed away.

NADMO begins distribution of items
The value of items lost in the aftermath of the disaster is still unknown. It is generally also difficult to predict exactly when the floods will recede as a worryingly cloudy sky, after the Wednesday’s heavy downpour that lasted about 12 hours, still hangs overhead with occasional showers. And it is not certain yet as to when the amenities washed away would be fixed.

What Starr News knows from NADMO is that some relief items are ready for distribution to the victims.

“I can confirm to you that the NADMO regional office, having received initial data from two districts hit by the floods, has made relief available. We have done allocations in the area of maize, blankets, mattresses, plastic buckets and basins, mosquito nets, et cetera, for two districts toured so far.

“The NADMO coordinators in those districts have been asked to come and pick up relief items from the regional office and make arrangement to distribute them to the disaster survivors,” Paul Wooma, Deputy Chief Disaster Control Officer in charge of Disasters and Operations in the region, told Starr News.

We are relieving, not restoring―NADMO
Survivors are to not expect total recovery from NADMO’s intervention. NADMO says the immediate needs of the survivors― who have lost monies, clothes and electrical gadgets among several valuables― are shelter, beddings and food.

“In a disaster situation, we give what we have. Even in the United Nations arrangement, relief has never been enough for disaster victims. We are relieving. We are not restoring,” Mr. Wooma pointed out.

There are fears the distribution of the relief items could see a delay. This is because NADMO itself does not have a truck or any suitable vehicle it would take to transport the relief items to the affected persons. Development watchers expect the assemblies responsible for the affected communities to make trucks available for relief tours and stopovers.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Interior and Member of Parliament for Builsa North, James Agalga, is said to have pledged to support some 115 severely affected survivors found in 7 houses completely ruined by the floods in the constituency.

Regional Minister tours affected communities Saturday
The Upper East Regional Minister, Albert Abongo, is expected to tour the affected districts Saturday in the company of Urban Road engineers, Ghana Highway officials and NADMO officers among other experts and government executives.

His scheduled tour, in what is going to be his first itinerary to those areas since the disaster hit the region Wednesday, has raised questions as to why it has taken so long. His personal aide, Jonathan Adabre, disclosed to Starr News the Minister, who doubles as the Member of Parliament for Bongo, was in Parliament at the time the disaster struck and that he only returned to the region Friday evening.

The minister will take off from the regional capital at 10:00am to begin his tour in the Builsa North District. He is also scheduled to tour the Bongo District, where floods have cut off communities, and may extend the trip to the Bolgatanga Municipality, where affected communities have blamed the flooding on either poor drainage systems or the lack of drains in their neighbourhoods.

The Wednesday’s heavy downpour is so far the longest-running cloudburst seen in the region since the start of the year, having lasted from 4:32am to about 4:00pm. The region came under a ‘total lockdown’ as the heavy rain kept workers and schoolchildren at home in what at the end of the day came to be known as a ‘wet holiday’.

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