Heavy rains and strong winds left a trail of destruction in the Lovington area of Kitale, Trans Nzoia County, on Wednesday, with many residents left homeless.
Property worth millions of shillings was destroyed in the storm that started at around 1pm, with over 27 houses and two churches left without roofs.
Several trees were also uprooted and the road to Kitale partially rendered impassable.
Two electricity poles were damaged, disrupting power supply. Kenya Power dispatched a team to the ground to repair the damage.
No deaths or injuries were reported, though many residents spent Wednesday night in the cold.
Kitale Poly students, churches affected
Mr Patrick Wafula, a resident and Nyumba Kumi official, said 20 iron-sheet buildings housing Kitale National Polytechnic students were destroyed in the storm.
“The roofs were blown away, and we had to seek shelter in unfinished structures to escape from the heavy rains that were accompanied by lightning,” he said.
Pastor Winnie Wanyonyi, whose Calvary Celebration Church was destroyed by the rainstorm, said the new structure had cost Sh5 million.
“We have really suffered a big loss, having built this church slowly during the Covid-19 pandemic period. We did this through contributions from members and well-wishers and it had even stalled at one point,” she said.
Another church a few kilometres away was also damaged.
“It will take us time to build again, and even then we are not sure where we shall hold our services next Sunday,” Pastor Winnie said.
Mr Allan Nyongesa was at work when a neighbour called to inform him that his house had been destroyed by the storm.
“I immediately rushed home from work and found that the roof of my house had been blown away. I do not know where to start and where to go. All my bedding is wet and the house is full of water,” he said.
Ms Florence Maina, a mother of one whose house was destroyed, urged the government to assist her. “I have nowhere to go and have a small child. The house was destroyed, the food stocks we had were destroyed and the bedding is all wet,” she said.
Forest destruction to blame
Trans Nzoia County Commissioner Samson Ojwang blamed the massive destruction caused by the rainstorm on the cutting down of trees in the Museum forest and human encroachment on it.
He said a large part of the indigenous forest had been cleared by land grabbers.
“Sometime back, the National Museums of Kenya repossessed 60 acres of land grabbed at its Kitale facility. Individuals had encroached on and grabbed forest land and a lot of trees were cut down. Now you can witness the impact of cutting down trees as much as we have tried replanting them,” Mr Ojwang said.
He said a detailed report would be compiled about the aftermath of the storm. “I appeal to those who are affected to report incidents to the area chief in order to assist us in our swift assessment and reaction,” he said.