BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – As a result of heavy rains, several persons have been made homeless by floods in Buchanan and neighboring areas.
The disaster came after five days of heavy rains, making hundreds of people homeless with the need for intervention.
Some of the affected residents are seeking shelter at the homes of their neighbors and family members, as well as in abandoned buildings around Buchanan.
Communities affected in Buchanan include Dirt Hole Community, Watco Camp, Peace Community, Moore Town, New Buchanan, Corn Farm, Bassa Community, Fairground, and Sugar Cane Farm. Outside Buchanan, areas like Big Joe Town and communities in Grand Bassa’s first and second electoral districts were also affected.
The heavy rains began last Friday night, with Dirt Hole Community and Fairground being the first affected communities, as affected residents raised alarm about the disaster on community radio stations across the county.
“I am calling on [the] government to open all the drainages so the water can pass smoothly so our houses cannot be affected anymore because it is always happening to us here but this one here is too much because all our materials spoiled,” said Manejay Karr, one of the affected persons. “We also calling on humanitarians and all well-meaning citizens to please help us.”
Karr told journalists that her cooking utensils and other belongings were swept away by the flood, adding that her house contains six rooms with over 16 residents, most of which had fled to their family members in and outside Buchanan.
“I have nowhere to go,” she said. “This is the only land I have in Buchanan, so I need help. Let the government help to open the drainages so that it will occur again.”
Another victim, James K. Teah, said he is downhearted over the “unforgettable” damage caused by the flood because he has nowhere to stay permanently beside his house.
“I am feeling very bad as all my properties are damaged,” he said. “I been here for the past eight years and this is the second time it is happening, so we pray that government will come to our aid to open all the drainages so that the water can pass freely. We also need help from NGOs, humanitarians and all the international people.”
Some of the affected people are seeking shelter in an abandoned building in the Fairground Community, as county authorities are soliciting support for the displaced people.
The flooding also cut off the road leading to River Cess and the Liberia Agricultural Company, as heavy mud rendered several trucks and smaller cars stuck along the route on Monday.
Grand Bassa’s Superintendent Janjay Baikpeh immediately called on companies operating in the county to provide help in term of clearing the road for smooth passage.
The Liberia Agricultural Company and International Consultant Capital provided road building equipment to clear the road while some trucks from Buchanan transported rocks to fill deep holes along the road, with the county government providing 130 gallons of fuel to the truckers hauling the rocks. However, the road to River Cess was still cut off on Tuesday as several trucks remain stuck in the mud.
Baikpeh said his intervention was intended to provide safe movement for commuters instead of waiting for the central government in Monrovia to act.
“I will not wait for [the Ministry of] Public Works to come before I help my people. You saw the road. The road is very bad – very deplorable condition – no car is coming in and no car is going out. We will not sit and wait for Public Works to come, but what we need to do is to get out there and find a way forward,” he added.
The county disaster management team was divided into two groups. One team headed by the superintendent was deployed on the Buchanan to River Cess road and the other team, headed by the county information officer, was deployed in Buchanan to carry out an assessment along with ArcelorMittal in flooded communities.
ArcelorMittal is currently working with the county to educate community dwellers on the impact of building in waterways and the constant cleaning of drainages in affected areas.
As sensitization continues, 25 men have been identified to clean the drainages in affected communities for 10 days. They will be paid US$5 daily by ArcelorMittal and will be jointly supervised by the county authority and ArcelorMittal.
According to the county information officer, Eddie Williams, the 25 men will begin work in three communities, initially to include Moore Town, Bassa Community, and Dirt Hole. These areas will be followed by Fairground, Corn Farm, and Peace Communities.
He said the 25 men have been provided personal protective equipment and all other safety gear to carry out their duties.
Williams told The Bush Chicken that the 25 men are sourced from the same affected communities to carry out the work effectively and efficiently without any delay.
“ArcelorMittal, after consultation with the superintendent, met with the development section and technical assessment team [and] went on the field, and what they are doing right now is to look at the various drainages – look, the county is not saying [Arcelor]Mittal is responsible for the flooding – [but] as [a] corporate partner, we are asking all of the partners to help us intervene, with ArcelorMittal being in the forefront,” he added.
The total numbers of affected persons have not been established as the county’s disaster management committee is still carrying out assessments in affected areas.
Five years ago, a similar flooding hit Grand Bassa and several homes were affected, with many people made homeless, necessitating the intervention of the county disaster management committee and the Red Cross. They provided food and other assorted items to the affected people. For now, nothing has yet been provided to the victims, as assessment continues.
Earlier this month, the executive director of the National Disaster Management Agency, Henry Williams, projected that more than 500,000 people would have been affected in years to come by disaster if the needed support were not made available to strengthen the capacity of his agency to get prepared ahead of floods.
Featured photo by Sampson David