Thousands of slum dwellers beginning from 20th Street to the Fish Market community in Monrovia have been forced to leave their dwellings as a result of flooding.
The disaster followed a heavy 12-hour down pour of rain that began at 9 p.m. on Sunday and continued up to 9 a.m. Monday morning.
Residents of 20th and 24th Streets who have lived there for more than 20 years said it was the first time a flood of this magnitude had been experienced in those communities.
Identifying the causes of the flood disaster, two of the 24th Street residents attributed it to blocking of the drainages and waterways in the swamp by builders.
“The people building in this place are the ones causing this problem for us. They build right over the drainages and waterways; and because these areas are blocked, the water is forced to spread into the community as it has,” a resident said.
Another resident of the Fish Market community near President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s home also attributed the cause of the flood to random building of houses without observing alleys or waterways.
According to Solo B. Gbayor, many people in the area build on the waterways in the swamp and are in the habit of dumping dirt in the drainages. He said this condition has clogged the drainages, preventing water from flowing freely; so the water must find its way.
Mr. Gbayor also blamed government for being weak in enforcing environmental and zoning laws and restoring orderliness. “People are just left to do their own thing without observing rules. Before building in any part of the city you have to go to Public Works to get the permission. But people do their own thing and claim they were authorized by the government. This is what is causing the problem for all of us today.”
Distressed victims in the communities were on Monday seen taking their luggage, crossing the flood of water to the dry land in search of other accommodations.
Those with no hope of getting another home elsewhere could do nothing but to wait for the flood to abate and find their way into their drenched and clustered houses.
The affected communities are situated in the lowland area. The narrow strips of dry land are divided by a swamp — one side between the swamp and the Atlantic Ocean, and on the other side near the John F. Kennedy Memorial Center, extending to President Sirleaf’s residence near the Old Road-Tubman Boulevard intersection.
Residents, without considering future embarrassments of this kind, have built in the swamp and blocked the waterway. Erosion from the main Tubman Boulevard runs down the beach and enters into the swamp.
But with the style of building in the communities, the water cannot flow down and is forced to spread.
Moreover, the drainage system in those communities, as in other parts of Monrovia, is clogged as those iron plates used to cover the drainages have all been stolen and sold to scrappers.
Local residents use the open holes now to dump trash while erosion also adds up. As a result, water no longer flows through the drainages but sets and spreads on roads and on the lowland.
Up until Monday afternoon, affected residents were still striving to get their things out of the polluted water in those communities, asking the media to propagate their situation in order that they might receive assistance from humanitarian organizations.
Normal work in the People’s United Community Clinic between 20th and 24th Streets came to a standstill as the flood overtook it; all working tools were left in the water.
Meanwhile, there is also a high possibility of the outbreak of waterborne diseases in the communities.
All septic tanks in the communities are full, while plastic bags of human wastes thrown over the top of houses by those without toilets are washed into the flood as rain falls.
Residents depend on well water to cook and bathe, and on hand pumps installed by the Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation (LWSC) water for drinking. With the level of flood, the water system is certainly polluted; and if not handled properly and expeditiously, may cause diarrhea, cholera, and other related diseases.