Military called in as Kenya floods wreak havoc

A bridge which was destroyed after River Ewaso Nyiro burst its banks on Thursday. Photo/ JOSEPH KANYI

Five villagers were feared dead on Friday as flash floods from Ewaso Nyiro river swept away two villages in Garbatula district, north of Nairobi.

The herders have been missing for two days since the swollen river burst its banks on Thursday, flooding the lower basins around Gaffarsa, Malka Daka in Garbatula district and Archers Post.

It took the combined efforts of the Kenya Air Force, Army, Police, the British Army training in the area and the Isiolo disaster management team backed by five helicopters to rescue about 39 tourists and hundreds of local workers to safe grounds.
All the tourist lodges in the expansive Samburu and the Shaba National reserves in Samburu east district were also affected.

According to Kenya Red Cross officials, the villagers could not account for the five who had driven their livestock across the river only to be washed away from the makeshift shelter they had erected a few days before floods hit the area.

Isiolo Red Cross coordinator Mugambi Gitonga told the Nation that the volunteers on the ground reported that three men and two women were missing.

“Our volunteers in Gafarsa reported that three men and two women have been missing since Thursday and they are feared to have been washed away by the furious waters of Ewaso Nyiro, locals could not account for their whereabouts and no one have communicated with them since their disappearance,” said Gitonga.

Counting Loses

Hoteliers in the famous Samburu National Reserve were on Friday counting their loses after the floods subsided allowing them to collect their items from bushes along the river. Hotel staff worked hard to recover valuable items swept into the bushes. Only chairs, mattresses and table were recovered.

Three lodges - Intrepid, Larsens and Serena - have been shut down indefinitely following the floods and employees sent home.

Guest relations manager at intrepid, Mr Steve Lekango said 75 employees have been sent home since there is no work for them.

“We have shut down our business and our 75 staff have been sent home indefinitely until thing normalize and we get ready for business again. We suffered huge losses and we might be forced to shift to a different location to forestall future disasters,” said Lekango.

Disaster management team from Isiolo toured the lodges affected by the floods to assess the damage.

The team comprising led Isiolo DC James Mwaura visited villages near the river and ordered the people to move to higher ground as more rains are expected.

The river burst its banks following heavy rains in the Aberdares ranges. The early morning flash floods marooned tourists and workers after catching them unawares.

The tourists were evacuated and later transferred to either Nairobi or Nanyuki in five fixed wing planes sent by tour firms.

Two bridges - one connecting the lodges and another connecting Archers Post to the main Isiolo-Marsabit highway - were destroyed.

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