Scores of people in western Kenya were feared dead Wednesday after heavy rainfall turned roads and streets into raging rivers overnight. At least 15 bodies were recovered from floods in a town west of Nairobi and dozens more were still missing, local media reports said. “It’s difficult to say what the true extent of the damage is, given there is a lot of debris to sort through,” Michael Aiyabei of a Kenya Red Cross team told Capital FM News in Narok.
— Kenya Red Cross (@KenyaRedCross) April 29, 2015
The death toll is expected to rise as torrential rain continued to pound Narok and rescuers pulled more bodies from the waters. “Forecasts suggest that weather conditions will continue to be very unsettled and will remain so throughout the week, with potentially intense rain falling on already saturated ground from tonight,” the Narok County government said in a statement Tuesday. “Further heavy rainfall is likely to increase river levels, leading to flowing of low-lying land and roads, as well as increasing the risk of groundwater flooding.”
Heavy rains in Kenya this month have submerged towns and villages this week, forcing around 1,500 people to leave their homes in Kisumu and Homa Bay counties. Swollen rivers have swept up houses, cars, crops and farm animals. The massive downpour -- coupled with poor drainage and irrigation -- has caused rising water levels in the area, local media said.
“I have lost at least 10 cows because of the floods. We do not have food to eat, we have been left with nothing,” David Owinyo, a father of eight from Kisumu, told the Daily Nation in Kenya on Monday.
Kisumu Gov. Jack Ranguma said he has asked the national government for help draining the overflown rivers, a project that the county government cannot fund alone. “Unfortunately, the budgets for that was left with the national government,” he told Capital FM News on Tuesday.
The Nairobi County government has appointed a task force to oversee the improvement of drainage within the capital after heavy downpour wrecked roadways and marooned pedestrians and vehicles Sunday, the Star newspaper in Nairobi reported.
Dozens of people die each year during Kenya's rainy season, which usually lasts from March until May. In 2013, tens of thousands of people were affected by flash floods and landslides in Kenya. In addition to claiming lives and damaging homes, the floods contaminated water sources and put already vulnerable communities at higher risk of water-borne illnesses such as diarrheal disease and cholera.