It was supposed to be a quiet night as per the norm at the sluggish Kambi Muhindi village located at Ol Jorai in the outskirts of Gilgil town.
With clouds gathering up in the sky, the villagers were upbeat of a blissful night of soothing raindrops, having endured months of a dry spell. The villagers retreated into their humble abodes as the sky opened up at around 7pm when the rainfall started. An hour later, hell broke loose.
Flash floods swept through several villages, catching the villagers unawares.
“There was little we could do. Those who died were inside their houses, which were brought down,” said area acting chief Parit Sururu. The administrator was among those who were mourning their loved ones, having lost his step-mother in the Monday night deluge.
“It was a chaotic night, rescue missions were almost impossible, we have never witnessed such a scenario,” Mr Sururu added.
Seven people were killed by the flash floods while several others who sustained injuries were rushed to Gilgil hospital.
According to Nakuru County Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance Chief Officer Joyce Cheche , the seven who died included four boys, two women and one man.
County officials led by Ms Cheche and local administrators held a meeting with survivors in which it was agreed that the residents move to safer grounds to avoid more casualties as rains continue pounding the area.
“At least thirty people have so far moved to safer grounds, with the rest planning to do so by the end of the day. We will distribute food, school uniforms and building materials to all affected families to ensure that they are stable and children go back to school,” said Ms Cheche.
Those who survived the horror returned to their dwellings yesterday morning to collect their belongings. Devastated, they went through the motions deep in thought, with the magnitude of the tragedy clearly weighing them down.
Gilgil MP Martha Wangari condoled with the affected families as she sought humanitarian assistance for the affected families.
“I will visit the area on Wednesday morning and at least provide food and other basic needs to the affected families,” she told the Nation.
Ms Jackline Wambui, one of the survivors, told the Nation she counts herself lucky after she cheated death in the Monday night ordeal. She says her two neighbours were unlucky as they were swept away by the floods. Their bodies were recovered two kilometres from their homesteads.
Ms Wambui said she had just returned from doing her casual jobs and was busy in the kitchen preparing supper for the family when it started drizzling; she thought it was the usual rain.
However, she was shocked when the house was filled with water. She immediately knew she had to ensure the safety of her children who were doing their homework in the living room.
“My eldest son helped me evacuate the children. Out of confusion I had left my four-year-old son who was sleeping but luckily he screamed before we could leave and we picked him. I have lost everything, but I am glad my children are alive. We were sheltered by a good Samaritan in a neighbouring village for the night. My children’s school uniforms, books and all our documents were swept away,” said the mother of seven.
“I can't stay here for the night as we fear that it might rain. I have been asked to move out of here but I have nowhere to go. I couldn’t salvage anything. I have no shelter, foodor clothes for my children. I plead with well-wishers to help us,” she added
Another resident, Mr Joseph Lemara, said that he had just retired to bed when he was woken up by the screams of a neighbour’s children.
“I heard them screaming and asking for help, saying that they were being swept by floods. Upon arrival at the house, l found the four boys holding on to the roof of their house, their house had been filled with water. They informed me that their mother who was in the company of their other neighbour had been swept away,”he said.
Mr Lemara said that he rescued the minors, called for help from others and they started searching for the bodies that were later found two kilometres away.
“The four boys are okay and are being housed in the neighbourhood. We have been rendered homeless and we are devastated. I don’t know if we will sleep tonight,” he said.
John Kimani said that he was in the house with his wife, son and daughter when disaster struck.
“As we escaped the raging waters, the boy, who was being carried by his mother, slipped and was swept away. We lost him,”he said.
Property worth thousands of shillings was destroyed by the raging waters.
In the neighbouring Narok County, one person and nine cows were on Monday swept away by raging floods that hit the Suswa area,following ongoing heavy rainfall in the area.
County Commissioner Isaac Masinde confirmed the incident, warning those living downstream to move to safer grounds as rains continue pounding the region.
The administrator also revealed that the roofs of two classrooms at Oloisiro Primary had been ripped off.
“For the past one week, we have experienced heavy rains in the county with River Kojong’a overflowing and causing destruction,” he added.
Mr Masinde disclosed that the river was responsible for the perennial flooding that has been blocking the Narok-Maai Mahiu road.
The administrator directed chiefs and their assistants to fast track relocation of families living in flood-prone areas to safe areas to avert deaths and destruction of property.
“We do not want to lose any more lives or property as a result of floods. Those living in risky areas should take precautionary measures and move to higher grounds,” urged Mr Masinde.
Reports by Macharia Mwangi, Mercy Koskei and Robert Kiplagat