Thousands Homeless, Without Food, Water in Liberia; Main Airport Route Blocked


Margibi County – Thousands of residents affected by heavy flood on the Roberts International Airport (RIA) are without food, water and shelter for the third day as flood tide continues to raise also preventing vehicles from heading toward RIA, Firestone or Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

“The water carry all our mattresses, our food and everything; no way for us to even find place to sleep or to eat”- Tomah Gbar, 38 year-old

Over 15 towns including Joe Blow Town, New Dolo Town, Borborville, Monclay and Karnneh Towns amongst others are gravely affected, as victims cry out for government and NGOs interventions.

The affected residents say the heavy flood started since Tuesday but worsen on Thursday, June 30 when all their belongings were washed away and all hand pumps and other drinking water sources have been destroyed by the flood.

“The water carry all our mattresses, our food and everything; no way for us to even find place to sleep or to eat,” cried Tomah Gbar, a 38 year -old affected resident, who is also a mother of four children.

Tomah’s affect town – Karnneh Town – is badly hit by the flood; all the homes are consumed by water. Her three months old baby was in the cold throughout Thursday.

“I was selling small-small things but the rain water has spoiled all of my market and no way to even buy food for my children,” she added; while crying out for food, clothes, mattress and water for her children.

Roosevelt Kanneh and Junior Bayor are community leaders of two affected towns – with over a thousand residents; they say the flood came as a shock causing them to lose all their valuables.

“This is the first time this thing (flood) has happened like this,” Kanneh said.

“Since our towns were here from the 1980s water has not come and destroyed our things and homes like this,” added Junior.

“Right now no food in our towns and we are suffering because some people are still in the water and have not been able to come on the road.”

Many inhabitants of Karnneh and Buyet Towns are charcoal burners or farm produce sellers; they say the flood which has made them homeless has also put stop to their source of livelihood. And to make matter worse, help is yet to come.

About half a mile from Karnneh Town, is Monclay Town where affected flood residents are also in distress. All their household materials remain caught up in the water.

One female resident was seen carrying on her head few items along with a mattress, saying she’d lost most of her belongings in the flood.

“I (have) lost all my things; the water finished taking over our whole house and nobody (have) even come to help us,” Oretha Flomo explains in frustration.

Oretha has nine family members and live along with three other family heads making up a 25 person household.

Almost all of their personal items are under siege by the flood, and they say what makes their situation worse is they can’t get in the house and are worry about where the kids will spend the night.

“We want for NGO or Government to come in and help us,” Oretha’s housemate appealed. “Since this water started here, it is the third day now, nobody has come here to help us – we are suffering.”

Miatta Kayeh, a neighbor to Oretha and her housemates, stood frustrated as she watched her house swallowed by water. 

Miatta watches through the window with worrisome expression on her face – all of her goods is stock in the house.

“We were only able to bring our children outside and carry them to the other town,” she said.

“This water has really put our lives behind, so we are only calling on government and NGOs to come in and help.”

Lawmaker Compares flood with Ebola

Across the other side of the water – around Unification City, New Dolo Town and Borborville – over 24 homes have been destroyed.

Residents are being rescued by the soldiers of the Arm Forces of Liberia who are using trucks to evacuate residents from flooded homes in the area.

Hundreds of women and children including pregnant women were seen stranded on the main road to the airport after AFL troops rescued them from their flooded communities.

“I saw plenty pregnant women and children sitting by the road waiting, some of them were hauling their things going to Smell No Taste way and other where going to the Harbel side,” one eye witness said.

A Margibi County lawmaker, Hon. Ballah Zazay told a local radio on Thursday evening that the situation can be compare with the danger of the Ebola outbreak, saying: “a few days from now, I don’t think we will be living here.”

The lawmaker fears the situation is worsening by the moment as the water tide continues to swell. He emphasized the lack of safe drinking water due to the overflow of water wells and hand pumps in the area, while also adding his voice to the affected communities who are calling for humanitarian and government’s speedy intervention.

Passengers, students stranded

Some senior high students writing the West African Examination Council (WAEC) tests were unable to write the test and one student who had to go against the odds to write the exams on Thursday told FrontPageAfrica that a bit of luck was on his side.

“I had to start walking in the water but while I was walking, I saw a Land Cruiser jeep that helped me go across the water,” said student Ruben Johnson.

Ruben is hopeful he makes it to school the next day unlike others who woke up in the middle of heavy flood.

Police have stopped cars from moving through the water which has swallowed the road while stranded passengers have to wait for the AFL to lift them to the other side. Only trucks and tankers can dare use the road.

Hundreds of passengers were on Thursday delayed while others had to risk walking through the water to the other side.

There are concerns that those travelling out of the country via RIA may miss their flight while those arriving may also go through constrains while heading to Monrovia.

The Head of Police of Lower Margibi County says the army is helping to transport women and children to cross the water but he expressed frustration that the flood disaster may become even more catastrophic if nothing is done.

“Lot of people are going to be internally displaced, that’s what I see” said Chief Superintendent Fredrick Trueh.

“Government will have to come in to help and at least take people from wherever they are now because their homes have been flood up so they need to be taken to a safe place and to give them relief”, the police official said.

Climate change effect?

Climate change appears to be creating increasing threat for hundreds of Liberians along Liberia’s coastal line and several other communities that are liable to flooding.

Sea erosion is still posing threat to thousands of residents in Buchanan and Robertsports in Grand Cape Mount County are feeling the pinch. In Monrovia, West Point and New Kru town are at the brink of extinction.

There are concerns about government turning a blind eye on disaster as it did not allocate money in the 2015/2016 national budget to prepare for natural disaster like the current flood disaster in Lower Margibi County.

Following a recent storm disaster at the foot of the President which destroyed over 15 houses, one source from the Ministry told FPA that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning did not allot money to the Ministry of Internal Affairs for Disaster management and as such the Ministry cannot respond to such situations timely.

“Right now we cannot do anything because we do not have money for that”, the source told FPA.

In situations such storm, fire and other disasters, politicians move in quickly to get political support by donating zincs and offering assistances.

And there have been some rice donation by Representative Roland Cooper to the some of the victims, who told FPA that they appreciate his intervention but need more assistance from others.

Alpha Daffae Senkpeni, [email protected]