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270 buildings ruined, 60 persons displaced in rainstorm in Bongo

2016-05-11 16:47:24
This article has been read 530 times.

Rocks of Bongo
No fewer than 270 buildings have been devastated and 60 people rendered completely homeless following a rainstorm that struck the Bongo District Monday night.

Aged residents and disaster management authorities in the Upper East region have described the disaster as the worst to have hit the area in 20 years. Officials of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the Bongo District Assembly have toured the affected communities to conduct rapid assessment of the damage and the needs of survivors.

“Disasters come and go. This one is the worst in 20 years. It’s serious. We shall commence a comprehensive assessment from tomorrow (Wednesday) onwards. The firsthand information is very important. It’s going to aid us in our planning and inform us as to the next action to take,” Alhaji Hajj Rafiu Tahiru, the Bongo District NADMO Coordinator, told Starr News.

Depth of havoc

The storm did not just arrive. There were warnings that night that it was approaching. The caution probably saved lives that could have been lost.

It moved through the unlucky communities at a speed traumatised survivors say they are incapable of describing. They say all they remember is that the rain lasted about 30 minutes and the accompanying storm itself just 10 minutes. And in 10 minutes, it left behind a scale of havoc not seen in two decades in the entire district.

Two people dared the storm and nearly paid the ultimate price for it. Ali Nyaaba, a poor boy living with his grandmother and believed to be below 10 years, riskily stepped out to pick fallen mangoes for supper. He ended up at the hospital after a hefty branch, ripped by the storm from the mango tree, fell heavily on him, cracking his head and breaking his left hand.

A middle-aged man, alleged to be under the influence, also took shelter under a tree. The angry storm uprooted the tree and dumped it on his legs, splitting them. Two houses collapsed at separate locations during the heavy downpour, with walls falling on a girl and a heavy door descending on another girl.

At least twelve basic schools and scores of private residences had their roofs peeled off. The angry storm flattened countless signboards and shops, dragged electricity cables on wet grounds and left deep cracks in some classroom blocks. It did not spare health facilities, either. At least three Community-based Health Planning Services (CHPS) compounds had their roofs ripped apart with registers, medical report forms and medications among other materials saturated with rainwater. Consulting rooms and quarters for nurses also were badly hit in the roofs.

Thieves took advantage of storm

The affected schools are located in Balungu, Namoo, Bungu, Sambolgo, Sikabiisi, Abokobiisi, Feo, Asakulsi, Boko and Agomo among other communities in the district.

The wild wind did uproot a number of trees and towed them to the roads to block traffic. It spared the roots of some trees but cut their branches and hanged them on electricity cables. Some of the displaced roofing sheets ended up on either trees or electricity lines.

Despite the raging horror, some parents and guardians were able to make their way to the schools their children attend to salvage the teaching and learning materials there.

But interestingly, whilst rescue operations were going on somewhere, robbery operations also were taking place elsewhere. Thieves took advantage of the rainstorm to burgle into the headmaster’s office at the Bungu Primary School, making away with buckets and sporting equipment among some undisclosed valuables.

Coping in the aftermath of disaster

Things are not the same anymore since the ruthless storm examined the disaster preparedness of the selected and affected communities.

Schools have reopened, coincidentally hours after the disaster had struck, and lessons must begin. Authorities of the distressed schools have improvised ways to cope with the misfortune until lasting relief comes.

Philip Akaribo, the headmaster of the Balungu Primary School where a three-unit classroom structure was entirely uncapped, told Starr News the schoolchildren would be taught under trees until the damaged building was fixed. The damaged block is for about 200 pupils in lower primary classes.

“I have just told my SMC (School Management Committee) and PTA (Parents Teachers Association) executives. They said they would get the prayer leader informed to release the social centre for us so that we can use that structure for now to prepare our students. You know they have less than one month to write their BECE (Basic Education Certificate Examination). Although that place would not be conducive, we have no option,” the headmaster of Sambolgo Junior High School, Jacob Abongo Anaam, told Starr News as staff and students were sorting out the school’s materials drenched in rainwater.

Whilst some have decided to run a shift scheme so that a half of the school would use the available structures in the morning and make way at noon for the other half, others think temporarily partitioning the surviving structures to accommodate everybody is the way to go.

Contractors blamed for tragedy

If the contractors who put up the now-ravaged structures had done due diligence, their works could have stood the test of the storm. That is the opinion of the Ghana Education Service (GES).

“Sometimes, you can attribute it to poor work done on the part of contractors. Maybe when I say poor work done, for now in all the places, you would realise that a brand new classroom was completed just within this month and portions of the roof had been ripped off. So, with something of this nature we know very well that there is something amiss,” the Bongo District of Education, Duncan Nsoh, said.

He underscored the role of trees as windbreaks in reducing disasters and proposed that every household should grow at least one tree in return for every free schoolbag or free school uniform government provides particularly for the rural communities.

“There is a need for us to put up windbreaks. As a District Health Director, last year I provided all the CHPS compounds with seedlings to plant round the facilities. Some are growing; others died. I would emphasise the need for us to have these trees planted around our facilities to prevent a serious impact on our facilities when the winds come,” Madam Juliana Akugre Anam-erime, the Bongo District Director of Health, stressed.

She also entreated the assembly to involve major stakeholders in the provision and planning of facilities so that structures could be appropriately situated to avoid disasters.

“When the assembly is going to construct a facility for us, we need to come together as stakeholders, the community, health staff, the assembly members and chiefs to find out the direction of winds so that we would be able to situate the facility at areas that would not have a great impact when windstorm comes,” she said.

16 high-tension poles uprooted in Bawku West

The Bawku West District suffered Tuesday a windstorm that wrecked disaster on 55 private houses and uprooted 16 high-tension cables.

Four schools at Boya and Gbandare also are affected. The NADMO coordinator for the area, Moses Aduk-pan, added that the district had lost countless economic trees in the wake of the disaster. Thirty-two schools in the Pusiga District are said to have been hit hard by rainstorm in a wave of disaster rippling across the region as the raining season is only about to set in.

Displaced schoolchildren and devastated households everywhere have appealed to government to fast-track the much-sought relief. NADMO says Ali Nyaaba, the fatherless boy crushed by the tree branch, is unconscious at the hospital. His grandmother could not afford an amount of Gh¢83 demanded to treat him. The District Chief Executive for Bongo, Alexis Ayamdor, intervened Tuesday, telling the hospital to save his life and award the bills to the assembly.

Carpenters in the affected communities are overwhelmed by demand everywhere from desperate victims to reroof demolished structures. Roaming ruminants, too, are cashing in on the raid after the storm cut down leafy branches everywhere and punched down wholesale haystacks from many trees where ranchers had hanged them.


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