Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, was affected on the 13th and 14th of August 2017 by a series of devastating floods which caused many people to loose their lives and homes.
At the moment there have been more than 400 deaths (of which 109 are children) and 600 people are missing, mostly in the Regent area, a neighborhood with new and precarious housing settlements, which have been literally washed away by a wave of mud and water. More than 3000 people have lost their homes.
The country manager of COOPI, Giacomo Mencari, sent us a real-time testimony directly from Freetown:
“I returned to Sierra Leone on the night of the 13th of August, when the floods started. When I landed at the airport it was raining very hard, but since we are in the rainy season, at first sight it did not seem any different than usually. The next morning, however, the streets were completely flooded and our staff startet receiving and sharing photos and videos sent by people and operators across the city.
The two affected areas are both located on the slopes of the Sugar Loaf, a 750 m hill which overlooks Freetown. The first affected area is on the east side of the hill, where there have been landslides in the Guma area. In this area there is an important water collection site that supplies Freetown. The most dramatic event happened on the northeast side of the Sugar Loaf. Here a steep slope collapsed on some of the new housing settlements in the Regent neighborhood. Water mixed with mud dragged hundreds of houses to the sea, along with debris and innumerable lifeless bodies. Throughout the day, rescuers continued to find bodies of people.
Many NGOs, including COOPI, have come together to co-ordinate immediate aid interventions.
COOPI has made itself available to participate directly within the subgroup of “Food and Nutrition”, a topic in which the association has a lot of experience.
Together with the competent authorities, COOPI is assessing on how to intervene both within immediate aid interventions as well as within the subsequent assistance for the displaced and homeless and for all the people who in the coming days will continue to suffer the effects of this exceptional bad weather.”