Sierra Leone's government reports 4 dead, many injured and homeless
The country's national stadium is transformed into a shelter for those left homeless
Heavy rains have fallen for days and expected to continue into next week
“We were in school when the flooding occurred,” recalled a boy, Ibrahim, in Sierra Leone’s capital. “And when I reached home, the water overcame us.”
That account, related by UNICEF, is one of many difficult stories playing out this week in the West African capital. Day after day of torrential rains – with no end in sight until at least next week – has caused four deaths, injured many more and left many others homeless.
UNICEF reported that more than 3,800 people have been displaced by floods just in Freetown, the country’s capital.
The dire situation spurred the government to turn Siaka Stevens Stadium, Sierra Leone’s national stadium in Freetown typically reserved for soccer matches, into a temporary shelter.
The government noted in a press release issued Wednesday that another stadium and an open field have also been opened for the homeless. Health ministry experts have been sent to help at area hospitals and police officers and troops have been dispatched “to help maintain order.”
The heavy rains began earlier this week, leading to severe flooding that cut off many roads and bridges.
Photos posted online showed fast-moving, muddied waters snaking around houses, with people standing on their roofs to stay safe. Some trudged through waters up to their waists.
More is coming, the government warned: “Sierra Leone has been identified as one of the countries in West Africa that will experience heavy monsoon rains for the next six days with all its attendant damaging consequences.”
“Therefore,” the release added, “in order to minimize loss of lives and properties, people living in vulnerable areas – particularly hilltops and (coastal areas) – are advised to move out of those locations to safe areas.”
CNN’s Alima Jalloh Williams contributed to this report.