One year after deadly Sierra Leone mudslides, survivors say they can barely afford to eat

One year after Sierra Leone suffered a devastating mudslide that wiped out entire communities in its capital...

Posted: Aug 17, 2018 12:27 PM
Updated: Aug 17, 2018 12:27 PM

One year after Sierra Leone suffered a devastating mudslide that wiped out entire communities in its capital, survivors say they are are struggling to afford meals and decent accommodation.

Survivors who lost their livelihoods say they have no source of income to rebuild their lives.

Accidents, disasters and safety

Africa

Continents and regions

Floods and flooding

Landslides

Natural disasters

Sierra Leone

Western Africa

Children

Demographic groups

Families and children

Family members and relatives

Population and demographics

Severe weather

Society

Weather

In the aftermath of the disaster, the government provided temporary accommodation for survivors. They also gave cash to others who opted to find alternative housing for their families.

Pawa Koroma, 58, said he was given the equivalent of $300 by the government to rent a home for his family of nine.

But despite that intervention, challenges remain. His rent is coming due, and he fears his family could be out on the streets again.

"We are stranded again, and I have no source of income to renew this rent. We can barely afford a meal a day," he said.

On Wednesday night, families and survivors dressed in symbolic black-and-white clothing returned to the areas where thousands of homes were washed away

Hundreds of people gathered to pray during a candlelight memorial held for those who died in one of the worst natural disasters to hit the West African nation.

Emotions ran high as a children's choir sang at the service organized by the Movement for Restoration for Mudslide Victims Organization.

Families wept as victims' names were read out during the memorial.

More than 1,000 people were declared dead or missing following the disaster on August 14 last year.

The mudslide happened after torrents of mud water triggered by heavy rains and flooding brought the side of Mount Sugar Loaf crashing into shanty towns below the hillside.

Koroma says the horrors of that fateful day still haunt him.

He barely managed to get his wife and eight children to safety before the flood water buried his home.

The carpenter said he was preparing for prayers in the early hours of that day when he saw torrents of muddy water charging toward his home in Lumley, one of the areas most affected by the disaster.

"I have never seen that much water, people were screaming while it carried them. I was shouting to wake people up; unfortunately, many were sleeping," he said.

He lost his younger sister, Fatu, who lived in the same community.

Koroma believes she was swept away in the landslides that tore through thousands of homes.

"I tried to get to her house, but everybody was running to get away from the water. I searched mortuaries after the incident. I did not find her. I went back to her house, it was no longer there," Koroma said.

Aminata Bissa was asleep as deadly floods headed toward her house on the base of the hill.

"Water is coming, water is coming, get out," she heard and quickly dragged her two children out of bed.

Regent, a Freetown neighborhood, has witnessed many devastating mudslides caused by years of deforestation and flooding.

Bissa, 29, said her home and shop, where she sold groceries to the community, were buried in the landslides.

She has since resettled with her family in Kamayama, a community close to areas affected in last year's landslides.

Like Koroma, she may soon become homeless.

"My rent expires next month, where do I go with two children? Everyone I know has lost either their home and businesses in the mudslide," Bissa said.

The government is addressing housing challenges facing those displaced by the floods, but requests have been overwhelming, a lawmaker told CNN.

"The level of destruction by the mudslides is shocking, and we are still working every day to get people back on their feet," Ibrahim Conteh said.

But none of these challenges compares to the loss suffered by those who lost family members.

"Till now, I have not seen my elder sister and her two children. I have checked mortuaries, and I have not set my eyes on her body," Bissa said.

Sierra Leone has endured many tragedies, but the August mudslides brought a new low to the country still reeling from an Ebola crisis that claimed 4,000 lives in 2014.

Around 20,000 people were displaced, including 5,000 children, according to government officials.

The desolation suffered by those affected drew humanitarian responses from around the world. International agencies and NGOs opened shelters across the country to house thousands of affected families.

Sierra Leone is prone to natural disasters, especially recurring floods and landslides, provoked by climate change.

The country ranks among 15 countries most vulnerable to disaster globally.

Experts say while heavy rainfall triggered the mudslide, decades of unchecked development in the outskirts of the mountainous area of Freetown laid the ground for the disaster.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 296745

Reported Deaths: 6783
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19731230
Hinds18881393
Harrison16780282
Rankin12787265
Jackson12643229
Lee9703161
Madison9484203
Jones8005147
Forrest7250138
Lauderdale6847227
Lowndes6033140
Lamar590980
Lafayette5747113
Washington5229130
Bolivar4620124
Oktibbeha442194
Panola432396
Pearl River4193132
Warren4138115
Pontotoc410771
Marshall404492
Monroe3993128
Union396474
Neshoba3822170
Lincoln3564104
Hancock350277
Leflore3389119
Sunflower319286
Tate303374
Pike301796
Scott295271
Alcorn292463
Yazoo290865
Itawamba290275
Coahoma282069
Tippah279565
Copiah279259
Simpson276680
Prentiss271158
Wayne254541
Leake253172
Marion252778
Covington249780
Grenada248578
Adams235078
George232445
Newton231252
Winston221979
Jasper213845
Tishomingo212965
Attala206870
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182770
Clay179251
Stone173029
Tallahatchie171439
Clarke169672
Calhoun158528
Smith153033
Yalobusha145536
Greene127933
Walthall124540
Noxubee123131
Montgomery122939
Perry122235
Lawrence120621
Carroll119025
Amite112235
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102731
Tunica99523
Claiborne99129
Benton93924
Humphreys93027
Kemper90423
Quitman77414
Franklin76219
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62827
Wilkinson62427
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 498076

Reported Deaths: 10094
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson716711387
Mobile36294737
Madison32616468
Tuscaloosa24340421
Montgomery22739519
Shelby22174218
Baldwin19873289
Lee15039157
Calhoun13832293
Morgan13753254
Etowah13390325
Marshall11448211
Houston10124264
Elmore9483190
Limestone9420138
St. Clair9022227
Cullman8984182
Lauderdale8612214
DeKalb8489175
Talladega7606165
Walker6585259
Jackson6545104
Autauga632492
Blount6236127
Colbert6001121
Coffee5264103
Dale4671107
Russell406933
Franklin399878
Covington3993106
Chilton3898103
Escambia379173
Tallapoosa3622143
Clarke344053
Chambers3431111
Dallas3422142
Pike293373
Marion288695
Lawrence284985
Winston258368
Bibb246160
Geneva240370
Marengo238857
Pickens225457
Barbour213651
Hale212269
Fayette202057
Butler201466
Henry183541
Cherokee178039
Monroe166739
Randolph164840
Washington156836
Macon147745
Crenshaw146255
Clay145954
Cleburne139841
Lamar133733
Lowndes132751
Wilcox122925
Bullock117336
Conecuh107024
Perry106127
Sumter99732
Coosa90224
Greene88532
Choctaw55323
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 51°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 56°
Oxford
Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 43°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 54°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather