People flee to caves to escape Puntland storms

Radio Ergo Producer Mohamed Hassan spoke on Wednesday by phone to SWALIM’s rain gauge monitor, Hussein Ahmed Shaur, who is based on the Puntland coast in Eyl. This was one of the centres of the tropical cyclone that struck land. He described what happened and how people living there have been affected.

Shaur: As soon as we received the storm alert, we started conducting awareness among the community in Eyl district. We immediately contacted the fishermen who were at sea and told them there was a storm with winds of 75 kilometres per hour due to reach them at around 3:00 pm. All the boats were safely moved out of the sea and the residents cooperated well and alerted almost everyone.  As a result, a lot of people survived.

Radio Ergo: Where did problems occur?

Shaur: The problems happened in large rural areas between Hafun and Eyl, which are very difficult to reach due to the poor telecommunications and infrastructure. Many lives were lost and there are a huge number of people who are missing. 12 people whom I personally know have died. The people tried to hide from the storm and rains in caves, but most of the caves were partially destroyed or collapsed in the storms.  This morning, we have seen thousands of dead livestock washed up onto the shore.  We think it was the storms and heavy rains that swept these animals into the sea from the rural areas.

Radio Ergo: What are you now planning to do in response to the disaster?

Shaur: We are now searching for bodies and finding out the exact number of people who have died in the storm. And our plan is also to search for any survivors.  The numbers of dead livestock are countless and there is almost nothing or very few heads of livestock that the tropical cyclone has left behind.

Radio Ergo: How is the situation now and are any further storms or rain expected?

Shaur: There are no rains pouring now and the sun is shining, but rains are expected in the coming days. That could make the situation worse, because the soil is already so wet and unstable, so no one can walk over it. There are no vehicles moving around the area.  Humanitarian assistance can only be delivered by air.

Radio Ergo: How can you reach people in the rural areas and other places where there are no connections?

Shaur: We are working with the local administration to reach these people in remote or far areas. But the main problem here is that there is no way vehicles can reach there.

Radio Ergo: How have the people reacted to the SWALIM alerts?

Shaur: People have immediately reacted. All the people who were in the sea were immediately alerted. The livestock were taken to safe sites. But the worst problems happened in the interior rural areas around Hafun. We have also informed people to move away from lower ground and the coastal areas to highlands for their own safety.

Radio Ergo: Currently, is any aid being delivered to these areas?  

Shaur: The vehicles can’t travel, but there are helicopters that we believe belong to NATO [EU Naval Force operating counter-piracy patrols off Somali coast] that have delivered aid in some areas.

Radio Ergo: What did the people say about this tropical cyclone? Had they ever experienced such? 

Shaur: They compared this to the Tsunami which hit these coastal areas in 2004. However, no such storms and torrential rains have ever hit these coastal districts.

Radio Ergo: The dead livestock that came ashore along the coast can cause diseases. Are there any fears of the outbreak of diseases?

Shaur: We have informed the administration about the problem. While partnering with aid agencies, the local administration should do something about it.

Elsewhere, Radio Ergo Producer, Fatuma Moalim Abukar, contacted a traditional elder living in Kardafu, one of the areas hit by the storm, situated at the far north-eastern tip of Somalia. Osman Mohamed Shire, known as Karjule, described how the storm had affected his community.

Karjule: The storms and floods have left three of the five villages of Kardafu cut off. The heavy rains are still pouring in the areas that have no communication with the rest of Kardafu and no-one can reach them with road vehicles. The humanitarian assistance and other support can only reach us from the sea.  So far, I can confirm the death of one person in the rural areas, while 13 other fishermen who were travelling with three boats are missing. We don’t know their whereabouts. However, there is not much information available about the exact number of people who may have died.

Radio Ergo: So, what is the level of destruction in the area?

Shaur: More than 35 houses have been destroyed and people are hiding in buildings that are strong enough to stand up against the heavy winds and rains. More than three boats were destroyed by the storm and also almost all of the livestock in the area was killed. Some camels were left alive, but all the goats are dead.

But I have no information about the places beyond my area. The storm has damaged the telecommunications and possibly the losses are much higher than what I can tell you. Kardafu is situated at the meeting point of the Indian Ocean and Red Sea and the only road which is open for us is the sea.


About somesha

Somali Media for Environment, Science Health and Agriculture (SOMESHA)
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