Kenya Issues Flood Warning As Rains Cause Death, Displacement

Motorcyclists riding through a flooded section of a road in Nairobi (file photo).

Nairobi — Kenya has issued flood warnings as heavy rains pound the region.

The Kenya Red Cross Society said flooding in the East African nation has killed 38 people and displaced more than 11,000. The agency said it has rescued 180 people from the waters across the country,

Venant Ndigila, head of operations at the Kenyan humanitarian agency, said the rains have created disasters for Kenyans.

"Humanitarian needs have really emerged in this area. And this is very significant around shelter, where those 11,275 families ... can't use their houses or they have lost their homes," Ndigila said.

Kenya started experiencing rains in mid-March, but in the past few days the rains have increased in intensity.

The Kenya Red Cross Society said it recorded over 100 millimeters of rain in many parts of the country in the past week, leading to six deaths.

Susan Ubbaga, who lives 300 meters from the Athi River in Machakos County, said the river broke its banks and entered her home.

"Friday, it really rained a lot, and there were lots of floods, but it was severe from Sunday coming up to Monday morning. The floods were so severe that they reached a height of about five feet," Ubbaga said. "People are not hurt. Most people have moved to rental houses. They've moved out of their houses. And like at my place, we had floods around the house, and ... part of the house from the backside was flooded severely."

More torrential rains are expected in Kenya, which can cause more flooding and the loss of lives and livelihoods.

Ubbaga said she cannot afford to move out of her house.

"I have just tried to raise my belongings up on the beds, on the table, but I am just ready anytime," she said. "If I don't see the water subsiding, then I will have to move to another town."

Kenyan officials and humanitarian agencies have called on the population to avoid flooded areas, move to higher ground and avoid driving when it rains heavily.

Ndigila said because some people are not heeding calls for safety, he expects the humanitarian need to grow.

"So we expect again, because the season is still there, the rains to continue," he said. "So we are, therefore, likely to see more families getting displaced because we can see still a very big number of Kenyans are still staying in high-risk areas, and they're not doing any preemptive displacement."

Similar warnings have been issued in neighboring Somalia, where residents have been urged to avoid areas around the river and plains. Somalia issued alerts in at least eight regions where floods may cause harm, displacement and death.

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