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Death, pain and destruction as rains pound city


Hundreds of families in Nairobi were on Wednesday counting the losses suffered after massive floods destroyed their property on the second day of unprecedented rains.

The rains, which the Kenya Meteorological Department said had not been witnessed in the recent past, also damaged roads and bridges, besides causing a massive gridlock on highways on Tuesday night.

Governor Evans Kidero had to cut short his trip to Doha, Qatar, to deal with the crisis.

On Monday, nine people died in the Fuata Nyayo Slum after the wall of a mosque collapsed during heavy rains.

And it was another day of reckoning Wednesday as residents of National Housing Corporation Nairobi West Estate and their neighbours at Nyayo Highrise Estate at Mbagathi assessed the losses suffered when the floods forced their way into their houses.

EVERYTHING DESTROYED

“We did not sleep after the flood waters nearly submerged our house, forcing us to go to upstairs for safety. The entire floor downstairs was full of water that destroyed almost everything, including electronic equipment, furniture and clothes,” Ms Dorothy Rautta, a resident of the NHC Nairobi West Estate lamented.

Her neighbour, Ms Joan Ayaga, was lost for words after she found her Mercedes Benz car underwater after the heavy rains that pounded the city from 6.45pm and continued late into the night.

Since a similar downpour had been experienced the previous day, the Nairobi River channel that was built many years ago to block parts of waterways to allow the construction of buildings, could not hold.

It is these waters that caused the widespread destruction. Kenya Power Nairobi West Sub-Station was also flooded.

At Nyayo Highrise, the Nairobi River broke the walls that the contractor building the channel had erected to prevent water from flowing into the estate. The estate, residents said, is built on a river valley.

“We witnessed similar problem of flooding during the 1997 El Nino, but this time it is worse, especially for people in the lower section of the estate who did not sleep since their houses were covered with water,” a resident, Josephat Rumitu narrated.

GAVE OUT WARNING

Deputy director in charge of forecasting at Kenya Meteorological Department Peter Ambenje said they had given out a warning on Sunday that Nairobi was likely to receive over 50 millilitres of rain in 24 hours this week.

The rains have inconvenienced both motorists and travellers who spent hours in gridlocks on Tuesday.

“I spent six hours between Lenana School along Ngong Road and Dagoretti Corner,” a motorist, David Muniu, said noting that what caused the traffic jam was overlapping of vehicles from both sides.
And they did this because police were absent. “We left the CBD at 8pm and reached Dagoretti Corner at 3:30am,” a Kenya Bus said.

Mr Muniu said matatu touts rescued the situation after making efforts to decongest the traffic.

Criminals however used the chance to harass motorists and passengers, especially women in the absence of the police.

Those using Lang’ata Road and Mombasa Road recounted harrowing experiences.

“I got home in Ongata Rongai at 3:30am after leaving the city at 8pm,” a journalist said.

KIDERO’S APOLOGY

On Wednesday, Dr Kidero apologised to residents saying the amount of rainfall experienced in the last few days was unprecedented.

At the same time, the Nairobi county government has set up a Sh50 million emergency recovery fund.

According to the executive for Transport Mohamed Abdullah, the cash is being used largely to clear clogged drainage channels and to repair roads that have been destroyed by the rains.

“This is a short-term measure and we will be constantly monitoring the implementation of these plans by our field teams,” Mr Abdullahi said in a statement.

Source: Daily Nation