Intense and heavy rainfall in the Liberian capital Monrovia on 20 July caused the worst floods on record in Monrovia and forced nearly 1,000 people out of their houses, Liberian authorities announced.
All day Sunday, residents in eastern areas of the city including in Paynesville, Townhalk, King Gray, Fish Market and other communities were seen removing personal belongings like mattresses, clothes and pots from their homes. By the end of the day, flood water had blocked roads to the area, and government rescue workers were using canoes to evacuate the remaining people from the flood areas.
“Right now, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Internal Affairs along with the Red Cross has been assisting in evacuating the flood affected residents to safer locations and as a temporary measure the government has relocated those residents to shelter in nearby schools,” Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer Bernice Dahn said on 21 July.
“With close to 1,000 persons displaced this is the worst flood we have experienced in this city,” she said.
Meteorologists have warned that the entire West Africa region is likely to receive above average levels of rainfall in 2008. Floods have already been recorded this year in countries including Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso.
However Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acting executive director Jerome Nyenka declared that the cause of the Monrovia flood is due to what he called “encroachment of human habitations on wetlands” as much as the level of rainfall.
“In this case, we have been able to gather that the affected areas are swamps. Because people have erected structures on those wetlands it prevented the flow of water and caused the floods,” he said.
Dahn said the health ministry is already liaising with several of the international aid agencies which have presences in Monrovia to coordinate assistance to the flood victims.