Written by David Gerald Turner aka Pa Turner Ihn Pikin.
There are many memorable stories about Sierra Leone, among these, 14th August 2017, can’t be forgotten so easily considering how that day took us unawares exactly three years ago.
On the early hours of Monday August 14th, after a three day of torrential rainfall, devastating flood and mudslide hits Freetown the capital city of Sierra Leone.
That was one of the massive disasters in decades. In one day, over 1000 people lost their love ones through shocking death or missing bodies. More than 3000 Sierra Leoneans were left homeless and over hundreds of buildings were damaged or destroyed by flooding and mudslide.
These twin incidents were caused by many factors such, for which I believe were: poor infrastructure in the Freetown municipality and hillsides communities by building of large houses in national protected areas, ineffective drainage system, the densely population in the capital city – the population of residents in the city is estimated to being over 1.3 million, unsupervised deforestation for timber or agricultural proposes and home building furniture amongst many others.
Hours after the disaster, the then President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma responded swiftly by establishing a medical and search team that was responsible to take care of injured, missing and dead bodies.
The President also called on a national day of mourning and unity for the lost of our fellow men. There were temporary relocated homes established across Sierra Leone for homeless survivors. The searching team which was made of civilians, military and security personnel was able to recover over 300 bodies in the first few days at Sugar Loaf Matormeh where the landside took place and some were found around the beaches and were taken to the Connaught Hospital.
There were foreign donations from Western African and International Community, Locally, Non Governmental Organizations, Banks and Cooperate Institutions all donated over millions of Leones to the government for an effective drive. At around 5pm on the next Friday there was a mass burial at the Waterloo Cemetery.
However, what can be done by all to avert future flooding and mudslide occurrences? Well, it has to be the will of all not as through government alone. Though government has the bigger factor in us achieving such feat, Sierra Leoneans must ensure not the build closer or above the green belt. Those places are kept as national protected areas. Why must people build houses in places they must not build? Are there no better land planners?
Sierra Leoneans must denounce deforestation and uphold afforestation. By planting more trees, our environment will be protected.
Also, government must ensure that laws on protecting our environment must be visible by punishing law breakers. This will reduce the amount of flooding, global warming etc.
By so doing, Sierra Leone will be a day home for all.