State establishes Command Centre to address current flood emergencies

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The Government through high-level meetings convened by the President and the Cabinet has resolved to establish a Flood Emergency Multi-Agency team, tasked with assessing and managing the current situation in the country resulting from heavy rains.

The National Disaster Operations Center (NDOC), under the Ministry of Interior and National Administration, was inaugurated to centralize and coordinate all government actions in responding to and managing the flood disaster.

In a media briefing, Interior and National Administration Principal Secretary Dr. Raymond Omollo stated that a Command Center for Emergency Response communication and information has since been established at the Nyayo House, Nairobi to host various relevant agencies and stakeholders to document and report all flood disaster information from across the country.

He added that the center will also provide early warning information, flood alerts, flood preparedness, safety and emergency response information to stakeholders and the public, mobilize resources, and combine capacities at all levels of government to respond to crisis, while at the same time liaising with agencies in national and county governments to better respond to emergencies.

“The Center will coordinate interventions including rescue operations, humanitarian aid, and infrastructure restoration to manage the different situations across the country,” the PS highlighted.

Presently, Dr. Omollo revealed that 5 Disciplined Forces have been co-opted including the Kenya Defense Forces, the National Police Service, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenya Coast Guard, and the National Youth Service.

Further, he presented the Ministries and their agencies which are also working in an all government approach including the Ministries of Defence, Interior and National Administration, Roads and Transport, Health, Education, Water, Sanitation and Irrigation, Lands, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Livestock as well as Energy and Petroleum.

He additionally announced that the Council of Governors as well as the Kenya Red Cross Society and other humanitarian agencies have similarly been sanctioned to augment emergency response and interventions being implemented including road and aerial support in delivering essential aid.

“At the County level, Disaster Response and Security Committees have also been activated to coordinate interventions and address disaster situations in respective areas,” Dr. Omollo reiterated.

According to the PS, saving lives and reducing the impact of the El Nino rains through early warning and disaster monitoring remains the government’s top priority as he emphasized that having every actor and stakeholder working in sync is the surest way of mitigating and responding to the emergency.

Omollo meanwhile cited the 4 Counties of Tana River, Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera as the worst hit and further put the 9 Counties of Isiolo, Kwale, Homa Bay, Makueni, Tharaka Nithi, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Meru and Kisumu on high alert.

“From October to date, 120 people have unfortunately died and their families, duly informed. Nine bodies were retrieved in Mombasa, while 4 bodies were recovered from Lake Victoria. 89,098 households have been displaced and are being hosted in 112 camps established in affected Counties,” the PS disclosed, adding that through the government’s search and rescue efforts, 2,058 people have been assisted and are undergoing medical checkups at the camps.

He added that the government has similarly distributed food, water, and non-food items to a number of counties including Busia, Marsabit, Isiolo, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Tana River, Lamu, Kitui, and Mombasa Counties.

On roads and infrastructure, the PS declared certain roads impassable including Garissa-Madogo road, Garissa Wajir road, Garissa Dadaab road, Marala-Baragoi-North Horr road, Bura East-Tana bridge, Marti-Marala road, South Horr-Laisamis road, Turbi-Buruk road, while Isiolo-Moyale highway, Marala-kisima road and Marsabit-Maikona-Kalacha road are currently passable but some parts still intermittently unusable.

Even after re-opening the Kotulo-Elwak road and freeing the 36 trucks, moving from Wajir to Mandera, that were stuck for the last 3 weeks, the PS said that the government is still carrying out assessments to determine the cost of damage to these roads so as to avail the necessary funds for the restoration.

“All major dams are likewise being monitored but Kiambere dam has a meter remaining to overflow and the government is enhancing power generation to mitigate the challenge,” he pointed out.

In order to reduce casualties, the PS advised Kenyans not to cross flooded rivers, gather flood alert information prior to traveling along areas prone to flooding, not seek shelter under trees or near grilled windows to avoid lightning strikes and extreme caution to be taken by people living in windy and landslide areas such as the slopes of Aberdare ranges, Mt. Kenya and the hilly areas of western Kenya.

The PS assured that Flood Emergency Updates will continue to be provided from the same Command Center every day at 3 pm until the situation subsides.

By Michael Omondi

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