Coast floods death toll rises to 20 as leaders hit out at Gachagua

Bamburi residents walk through flood waters as El Nino rains wreak havoc across the country. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

The death toll from floods wreaking havoc in Coast has risen to 20 after six more people died in Kilifi county.

On Wednesday, Kilifi Governor Gideon Mung’aro said a total of nine people have died in the county, up from the three announced earlier. The deceased include six adults and two children in Malindi, Magarini, and Kilifi South.

In Majengo, Kilifi South, a child drowned after their house was marooned by the floods, while a widow and his grandchild were also found dead inside their house that was submerged.

Munga’ro, who issued a report on the impact of the ongoing El Nino rains in Kilifi, said that the body of another victim who drowned at River Sabaki is yet to be retrieved.

“The victim was swept away by floods in Burangi area while crossing the river last week. We have dispatched divers to search and retrieve the body,” he said.

One person is missing in Malindi, while two others are recuperating in hospital after sustaining injuries from fallen trees during the heavy rains.

On Saturday, Coast Region Coordinator Rodha Onyancha said one person died in Mombasa, three in Kwale, three in Kilifi, and two in Tana River.

A boda boda rider drowned in Taita Taveta, and the bodies of two Kenya Revenu Authority (KRA) officers were retrieved from Ramisi River, taking the number of those who have perished from floods to 20.

Meanwhile, a war of words has erupted between Coast leaders and Deputy President Righathi Gachagua, who on Tuesday accused Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir of lamenting instead of helping the affected people.

Speaking at Barawa in Kisauni, Gachagua claimed that the national government has disbursed Sh10 billion to counties worst hit by El Nino rains and floods.

The DP said Nassir had allegedly “folded his arms waiting for help from Nairobi.” He said Mombasa City has the worst drainage systems, which worsened the floods.

“Nassir should borrow a leaf from Nairobi County that has employed the youth to unclog its drainage system instead of sitting and complaining,” he said.

Gachagua said Wajir, Mandera, and Garissa counties have bought food to supplement the efforts by the national government to feed affected families.

“Let Nassir buy food, and we will give him military helicopters. Other countries like Wajir, Mandera, and Garisa have done so. This is not the problem for the national government alone,” he said.

Yesterday, Mombasa Governor and his Siaya counterpart James Orengo accused the DP of spreading propaganda and lies to seek sympathy and endear himself to victims of floods.

Nassir said that had the county not rolled out flood mitigation measures, including unclogging the drainage system, parts of Mombasa would have sunk.

He believes that he was a target of propaganda from the Kenya Kwanza regime because of his stand against the privatisation of the Port of Mombasa. “I’ll not tire or cower from speaking for my people,” he said.

Nassir said that Gachagua lied to the people of Mombasa that the national government had disbursed Sh10 billion to the counties for flood mitigation measures.

“I ask the Auditor General to investigate the alleged Sh10 billion that has allegedly been disbursed to the counties. We have been struggling to help those affected by floods,” he said.

Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki also criticized Gachagua, terming his assertion that the county has not helped victims of floods as unfortunate.

In Kilifi, Mungaro said he has set aside Sh50 million for disaster management and will give affected families food, shelter, and medicine.

"We have set aside Sh50 million for disaster and emergency. We have already used Sh25 million on food, clean water, and other essentials for the affected families,” he said.

The Kilifi governor said his administration was drafting a supplementary budget for to reallocate funds to combat the floods.

Mung'aro admitted that the county has not received funds from the national government to mitigate effects of El Nino rains.

"There are many places which are hard hit at the grassroots. If things get out of hand, we will use other alternatives, including helicopters for evacuation,” he said.

He said the county has identified several buildings on the waterways that will be demolished.

According to the Kenya Red Cross, 228 affected families in Kilifi have sought refuge at Makio Social Hall, St Joseph Education Centre, Ngoloko School, and Sahajanand Special School as Evacuation Centres.

Hundreds of families in Malindi and Magarini constituencies have lost their homes and property after River Sabaki broke its banks following heavy rains upstream.

Families affected by floods are from Miwani, Goshi, Kisiwani complex, Magongoloni, Bate, Langobaya, Chakama, and Madunguni.

"We broke our houses and moved to our neighbourhood to set camp. Some of our items were swept away as we moved to safe ground,” said Kadzo Yaa, a resident of Chakama.

Several roads in the county have also been destroyed, including the Mombasa-Malindi highway at Kwa Kadzengo and roads leading to Junju, Jaribuni, Mrima wa Ndege, and Danisa.

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