11 June 2019

Liberia: Heavy Storm Ravages Nyor Butuo Town

5 children wounded, 73 houses, churches, schools destroyed

A June 7, 2019 downpour characterized by hailstones has destroyed 73 residential buildings, the only government school, a private school, the two churches which, upon collapse of the Lutheran Church, injured five children in Nyor-Butuo Town, near Buutuo Headquarters in Buuyao District near the Liberian-Ivorian border in Nimba County.

The devastated Nyor-Butuo Primary School was constructed in 2010 with US$150,000 that the Government of Japan provided through the Liberian government. The construction project was implemented by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) as one of the schools that were constructed in the 15 counties; five being built in Buuyao District in Nimba County.

The town chief, George W. Mantan, said that the situation has devastated the town to the extent that many of the affected residents are left with no alternative, but for some of them to seek shelter in the bush.

The wounded are being admitted at the Buutuo health center and other health facilities.

The rain also left the roof sheltering the town's only oldest surviving elder, Sehdogo Kwemie's house ravaged.

The torrential rain was precipitated by heavy storm that left the town completed destroyed with 57 houses completely damaged, according to the Daily Observer survey on Sunday, June 9, 2019.

Among the houses destroyed are the only public school, a private school and the two churches (Lutheran and Inland).

One of the heavily hit quarters in the town, on June 8, 2019.

Those five children that reportedly sustained injuries with one being serious are being treated at local health facilities. Some of the victims, over 100 family heads, are seeking shelter in nearby hamlets, villages and towns, but without food.

Mr. Mantan puts the total number of the destroyed houses at 73, with 57 completely leveled to the ground.

He said the incident started around 3 a.m. on Saturday, June 8, 2019, with torrential rain, "but in a few minutes, the entire situation turned the town upside down as residents were awakened to the terrific sounds from falling trees and houses from every angle of the town while, at the same time, de-roofing many other houses and breaking down their walls to the ground.

Household materials, including clothing, cooking utensils and other valuable were also destroyed, leaving many residents confused.

"We are therefore appealing to any well-meaning Liberians, relief agencies including the Liberian National Red Cross, and the government to come to our aid without the least delay, so our children can complete their 2019 academic calendar, ahead of the heavy downpour in the middle of the rainy season," Town Chief Mantan lamented.

The private school in the town was also destroyed by the storm on June 8, 2019

He added, "As we speak, some of those who completely lost their houses to the disaster are seeking refuge in the bush, nearby hamlets, villages and towns.

"We want President George Weah to come to our aid. Disaster has struck our town and left us in complete debris," he added with tears rolling down his cheeks, while others, including the women wailed.

"As you can see, the entire town is devastated with residents crying all around me. What can we do now," Mantan rhetorically asked as he gave way to tears, while pointing to the rubble spread across the town.

Ma Sehnan Pailah, an elderly woman, who is one of the single mothers, was badly affected and devastated by the storm. She has however began self-repair of her broken house, but has desperately appealed for urgent assistance.

She informed this newspaper, "I lost two houses in the disaster to the extent my children and I have nowhere to sleep."

The Lutheran Church in Butuo, leveled by the storm on June 8, 2019.

One of the public facilities heavily affected is the Lutheran Church, which was completely brought down to zero, leaving the worshippers to conduct June 9 Sunday service in an open air space.

Evangelist James Tuah, who is the spiritual head of the Lutheran church said, "we don't have any place to worship and the school, which I am also serving as principal, was de-roofed, leaving everything scattered and confused."

Butuo Town is where the first Lutheran parish was planted in Nimba by the Lutheran Church In Liberia in mid 1980s. There, they carried on evangelism that subsequently led to the establishment of the Nyor Lutheran Parish.

The two entrances of the town were covered with falling trees, making the entrance to the town impassable for vehicles.

In 2017, storm hit the nearby Nyor Diaplay, destroying several houses and leaving homes destroyed. At the time, those affected did not get any relief, despite the cries of the citizens.

Nyor Butuo town is surrounded by Nyor Diaplay (0.7km south west) Gbanwea (3.7km south) Blumtuo (4.7km east), Gomahplay (5.0km north east), Kpantouopleu, Ivory Coast (8.4km east), and Yao Nyahplay/Tanplay (12.3km north west).

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