From the preliminary assessment, it was observed that mudslide occurred burying a number of storey buildings and shacks at Sugar Loaf in the Regent area in the Western Part of Freetown. With the continued torrential rainfall, the situation became even more precarious as massive run-off with huge debris were gushing downhill through Kamayama, Lumley and Juba areas causing life-threatening flooding of homes and properties along its way which left most areas buried in flood water and mud. This left many people dead or displaced and homeless. At the same time, the east end of Freetown was sharing its own toll of this horrific happenings in which gutters and drainages were filled with mud water causing similar devastating blow to lives and properties resulting into death and massive displacement of people. This situation became very chaotic, in which the roads became impassable and cars and heavy vehicles were literally floating and carried along the gushing water currents.
In the aftermath of this disaster, the authorities have put the following measures in place:
* The Vice President charged by the President to oversee the coordination of the response actions;
* An interagency meeting was held at ONS to formulate a response action plan
* The President has invoked MAC-P (Military Aid to Civil Power) to effect the assistance of the Military in the rescue actions;
* Emergency phone lines were opened to report any emergency case(s) which are as follows: 117, 302, 300, 301, 303, 300, 112, 2244, 119 and 672 for various services and needs;
* Assigned ambulances to convey victims to hospitals or morgue;
* Established 3 emergency centers at Regent Village, Lumley and Ross Road Police Sation to register affected persons; and,
* Seven days of mourning across the country has been declared by the President.
In the cause of the actions and structures instituted by various actors, /the realities of the current situation observed so far include the following:
1. The localities badly affected by this disaster include the following: Sugar Loaf, Regent, Motemah, Kamayama, Lumley, Juba, Kaningo, Mountain Cut, George Brook, Big Wharf and Wellington;
2. Death toll from the landslide and flooding according to the Deputy Minister of Information 297 (109 – children, 83 – women, and 105 – men) but more bodies are expected to be found later;
3.The number persons hospitalized has been estimated as 500;
4. The number of housing structures were destroyed has not been disclosed but it is estimated to cost millions of Leones; and,
5. The number of people made homeless have not been specified but conservatively said to be in thousands
Sierra Leone YMCA Position on Response and Action Plans
In wake of the aftermath of the flooding and mudslide disaster, the Sierra Leone YMCA took cognizance of the following circumstances:
* A couple of the localities or communities the Sierra Leone YMCA is reaching out were directly moderately affected by the flooding;
* None of the staff or volunteers of the Sierra Leone YMCA were badly affected by the flooding as some of our staff had their homes flooded; and,
* As a youth serving agency we observed that those directly affected were mostly young people and children.
In the light of the aforementioned realities, the following decisions were reached:
1. That Sierra Leone YMCA will launch a fund raising appeal and encourage any of the partners to do so immediately considering the magnitude of the tragedy;
2. In the spirit of national interest, the Sierra Leone YMCA will donate relief items (food and non-food items). This donation will be made through the emergency response structure that has been established by the government; and,
3. The Sierra Leone YMCA will continue to monitor the situation to determine their future position by the prevailing circumstances observed through its monitoring capabilities.
4. That funds generated through the appeal should be transferred immediately to enable the Sierra Leone YMCA start their intervention since other Non- Governmental organizations have already started.
Source: Mr Christian M. Kamara
National General Secretary – Sierra Leone
Zonal Facilitator – West Africa