As you are all aware, residents in Mbale were greatly affected by flash floods which originated from Mt. Elgon and Wanale Hill in Mbale. The flash floods coupled with mudslides, caused extensive damage to food and cash crops, permanent and semi-permanent houses were broken, while others were submerged. In addition, 22 lives were lost and 10 others critically injured. The search for more bodies and other movable properties that could have submerged, are still going on. The Directorate of Fire and Rescue Services, Police Health Services and Logistics, have mobilised additional resources, to help our territorial teams in the search and rescue efforts. So far, the floods which occurred arising from heavy rains during the night of 30th – 31st, July, 2022, has led to the death of 22 people whose bodies have been retrieved. These include;
1. Khalayi Lukiya a 15 year old, female juvenile and P.7 pupil of North Road Primary School and resident of Mutukula cell, Namakwekwe ward, Northern Division, Mbale cell.
2. Khalayi Barbra, an 11 year old, female juvenile, a P.3 pupil of North Road Primary School, younger sister to Khalayi Lukiya, both daughters of Mr. Simiyu Sam of Bumoni Sub-county, Namisindwa district.
3. Tamunoza Doreen, a 27 year old, hair dresser of Central ward, Industrial Division, Mbale city. She was in a Toyota Wish registration number UBH060T, with three others, of which two survived and one is still missing.
4. Yadhi Farouk, a 32 year old, businessman at Mbale Industrial areas, resident of Somero cell, Namatala ward, Industrial division, Mbale City
5. Nekesa Janet Diana, a 32 year old, resident of Bulorero village, Busoba sub-county, Mbale district. She was with three others in a Subaru registration number UBL 465A. Two survived, one died, while a one Mwagale Andrew of Busamaga in Mbale, is still missing.
6. Namara David, a 30-year-old, pump attendant of Oil Energy Petro station Bunghokho and resident of Nashikhaso sub-county.
7. Private Chemendwa Sam – A UPDF soldier.
8. Others are yet to be identified.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased. We also wish the 10 victims who were critically injured and rushed to Mbale National Referral Hospital a quick recovery.
Also destroyed were permanent and semi-permanent houses. These include part of the wall structure at Oil Energy Petro Station near Bunghokho Sub-county headquarters, the National Water main supply pipes from Manafwa River were also destroyed, several schools in Bunghokho, factories at the SINO-Uganda Mbale Industrial Park, were partially flooded with water.
The search for more missing persons, cars and other properties is still ongoing. Two motor vehicles indicated above and two motor cycles registration numbers UEK821Q and UEY 712Z were recovered from River Nabuyonga. On the 21.07.2022, the Toyota Super Custom which had 10 occupants, under registration number UAW334X was retrieved on the 1.08.2022. We wish to advise the public about flood risks and advise them including motorists on how to protect themselves. They need to be aware of the following;
1. People living in low-lying areas or next to river and streams must evacuate to safer places or higher grounds when the water level arises. They should also take special care during storms, as sudden floods can easily affect them.
2. There is a danger of flowing water over roads and low water bridges. It needs to be careful because, flowing water applies pressure to contact areas. The higher the speed, the higher the pressure, and can sweep you off on your car. When in a car, the force increases rapidly on the under side of the vehicle and starts to lift it up and float. It is therefore, advisable to open the doors and windows and let water inside the car, other than being swept away.
3. Many drivers gamble with their safety by driving through flood water which puts the lives of drivers and their passengers at risk. As a driver, be aware of your car limitations. If you can become submerged, do not panic. Carefully release your safety belt and roll down the window, then get out of the car and swim to safety. Do not stay in the car until it sinks.
4. Danger of standing water. Although standing water does not exert pressure, it can lift a person or vehicle and float it. The car becomes impossible to move it forward. When vehicles are moving fast over a layer of water, the vehicle can start to aquaplane, especially of the tyres are warn out. It is easier to lose control.
5. Pans and mashes. This is treacherous as it may appear solid, but may only have a thin dry crust. The vehicle or person may disappear before your eyes in a marsh. The more you struggle the faster it will sink.
6. Floods and Debris.
When rivers are overflowing their banks, the flow of water will cause light objects, trees, to float. This could block the flow of water at obstructions and channels the water and cause rapids to form. Avoid these rapids.
7. Destruction of surfaces and structures.
The might of the water is very destructive, walls may fall over and road surfaces may be curved away. Stay away from strong currents.
8. Low water bridges
Many low water bridges are designed without rails and will collect excessive amounts of debris. If you cannot see the small pillars do not attempt to cross the bridge.
9. Lack of visibility through muddy water
Due to the mud and debris in the flooding water it becomes impossible to see the condition of the bottom of the surface.
10.Protecting yourself and saving your phone.
Avoid flooded areas at night because the chances of survival are slim. When your body is exposed to cold temperature, it shocks your system. Treat yourself for shock by staying calm, relaxed and start to warm up the body gradually.
11.Your cell phone can be the biggest help. Wrap it in a plastic bag and ensure it does not get wet.
12.For those who cannot swim and trapped.
Try to always face upstream and make yourself as light as possible by removing extra clothes and shoes. Stay away from white foaming aerated water, it will soft and you will sink deeper into the water.
CP Enanga Fred
1st August 2022