MACHAKOS, Kenya, Mar 16 – About a dozen households at the Greenpark Estate in Athi River are counting loses following the submersion of their houses by floods Thursday night, after a nearby river broke its banks.
Capital FM News met Stephen Kilonzo, one of the residents whose houses had been submerged in the floodwaters who said property of unknown value had been damaged but added that all inhabitants of the affected houses were safely evacuated.
According to Kilonzo, residents in about ten houses located along a perimeter wall brought down by the flood started evacuating as soon as it became apparent that the raging waters were headed there way, at about 5 pm.
“At some point in the afternoon I received a call that the river was swelling and within an hour the surging water brought down the wall and as a result, the entire river came into our compound,” he said.
“It is, however, important to note that we did not lose any lives, our pets were secure, and we’re now in the process of accessing the damage,” he added.
According to Kilonzo, the ongoing construction works at a nearby bridge could have caused floodwater to buildup, before discharging into the estate’s perimeter wall, consequently flooding into the said houses.
He said supportive structures at the construction site had almost formed a wall, restricting the free flow of water.
“Preliminary reports suggest that water from upstream – Ngong’ and supposedly Kajiado – came and created a dam just before the new bridge being constructed. At the point when the contractor evacuated the debris that was holding back the water, the entire river flow just surged forward breaking the perimeter wall,” he narrated.
Linda Kasembi, a resident whose house is among those unaffected by the floods told Capital FM News she hoped a reinforced wall will be built to secure the affected houses against future floods once the rains subside.
According to Kasembi, diversion of the river upstream could have led to the influx of water, leading to flooding in the area.
“The rumours we’re hearing is that it is possible the rivers upstream were diverted to this section – Mto Mawe – so that’s why it got really swollen. Otherwise, if the rivers were allowed to follow their way, it wouldn’t be this bad,” she said.
Kasembi who was lucky enough to be among hundreds of Greenpark Estate residents whose houses were not flooded however said she was concerned about the well-being of her neighbours whose houses are allocated along the uprooted wall.
Earlier on, Capital FM News spoke to Machakos County’s Deputy Director in charge of Disaster and Emergency Response, Festus Kitongu, who said the county government had heightened surveillance on settlements bordering the river.
He reported that a search and rescue operation had resulted into the retrieval of three bodies which are yet to be identified.
Kitongu urged those living in vulnerable areas to evacuate while encouraging those who find themselves in distress situations to reach the county’s emergency team.
The emergency telephone numbers are 0720841461, 0720841462, 0715068861, and 0720808900.
The Kenya Meteorological Department on Friday urged caution as it forecast an average of 50 mm in rainfall over the weekend
Last week, the meteorological department had reported rainfall levels ranging from 50 mm to 20 mm in most of Nairobi and its environs.
At Moi Air Base in Eastleigh, for instance, the weatherman reported 50.3 mm between Tuesday and Thursday last week.
The second highest rainfall was recorded at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 35. 8 mm.
At the Wilson Airport along Lang’ata Road, the weatherman recorded 32.7 mm of rain.
Rainfall levels in Ngong’ and Dagoretti were 21 mm and 17.9 mm respectively.
In Nairobi, traffic was disrupted on most roads leading to the Nairobi Central Business District, causing huge delays in the morning rush hour on Thursday, following heavy rains the previous night.
A section of the Nairobi-Mombasa highway in Athi River had also be temporarily cutoff after a bridge was submerged in water and partly damaged as a result.
Normalcy was however restored on Friday morning when the bridge was repaired by Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) officers.
“While the bridge has now been re-opened to traffic, road users are requested to exercise care and strictly follow traffic control instructions from the officers on site,” Charles Njogu, KeNHA’s Assistant Director in charge of Corporate Communication said in a statement Friday morning.
“Further disruptions may be necessary as part of the reinstatement process. Patience and cooperation is requested should this occur,” he warned.
KeNHA said water levels at the Stoni Athi Bridge – between Athi River and Kyumvi – had reduced to safe levels adding repairs to erosion-damaged approaches will continue.