Here we reprint in full Society 4 Climate Change Communications' blog on this morning's deadly mudslide in Sierra Leone.
When we broke the news this morning of eyewitness accounts of a mudslide at Regent, back of Guma valley reservoir, we had no idea of the scale of the tragedy, nor the terrible human cost.
In Sierra Leone we’re used to the consequences of heavy rains and flooding but this is shaping up to be our nation’s biggest natural disaster.
Hundreds of people were digging to find survivors, when First Responders arrived the scene, impeded by the flooded streets, so we can take some comfort in our communities heroism and emergency services preparedness.
But can anything prepare a small nation for this
More than 200 bodies at the Mortuary, many more piling up at the bridge at Lumley, washed down from Regent. Perhaps many, many more to be recovered from under the mudslide. A terrible human cost, which we will not be able to fully count for days, perhaps weeks.
But this national tragedy is a wake-up call. Communities all along our coast are threatened because this is one national disaster, where man-made activity meets climate-change head on, a predictable event now made tragically real. All along our coastline, deforsestation takes place and every day trees - with their intricate intertwining root networks holding our beloved Sugar Loaf Mountain together – are cut down for commercial logging or as is the case of Regent, unplanned building. A mountain or hill with no means of support means mudslides when more intense storms and flash flooding caused by climate change strike.
Last night was such a night.
Although there were warnings from authorities for people not to build on the Gomeh Valley water catchment area, and an offer to at least one community to resettle, this is not the victims fault. Many of the community have lived there for generations and there must be no blame game. No blame game at all.
But we do need clear practical steps and we need them quickly so we call on the Government to:
Work with International agencies to provide immediate relief in the form of direct aid for those 100s now homeless and destitute
Call a national day of mourning for the victims and if this proves to be as bad as we fear make this an annual commemoration to raise awareness for climate adaptation
Issue a moratorium on logging and unplanned building and most rigorously enforce this
Do more to build the capacity of vulnerable communities to adapt and encourage and support them to move if necessary for their safety.
Incorporate lessons from this tragedy into our nations preparedness strategies
We agree with Society 4 Climate Change Communication that the mudslide is a wake-up call.
DONATE IF YOU CAN
If you can please donate to Sierra Leone mudslide and provide direct aid to victims at Regent. We've already had money sent for 7 bags of rice which we can deliver tomorrow or as soon as the 3 registration centres are set up to deliver.
Give here: http://bit.ly/SierraLeoneMudslide