October 4, 2013 (JUBA) - At least 20 people have been confirmed dead after flood waters overran the headquarters of Warrap state’s Gogrial West county, closing several schools and causing severe damage to crops and buildings, local legislators and county authorities said.
- A photo taken on 4 September in Jonglei state capital Bor showing people affected by recent floods there (ST)
Area commissioner Makuc Aru Luac said on Friday that floods continued to be a major concern for greater Gogrial West county, which also suffered severe flooding in 1972, 1988, 1998 and 2003.
The most significant flood which occurred in 1988 submerged the entire area, resulting in destruction of farms and massive displacement.
South Sudan Television (SSTV) broadcast footage on Thursday showing Gogrial town surrounded by water and many people from the area wading out to escape floods which have restricted movement and blocked one of the main access routes to the town.
A month-long downpour cut off several roads in the area, causing primary health units and schools to be shut down and restricting the delivery of various supplies to the area, which has a population of more than of 7,000 people.
The surge in floods in recent years has also caused severe disruptions to trade in the area.
CALLS FOR URGENT ASSISTANCE
Luac described the situation as a “big disaster” for the people of Gogrial.
“The whole town has been overrun by flood which started in July and continued unabated with the downpour of heavy rain. Nine payams [districts] have now been completely occupied. Gogrial payam, which houses the county headquarters, has been the hardest hit, with some streets in the town becoming rivers of mud,” he told Sudan Tribune on Friday by phone.
“The state government together with the central government needs to provide urgent assistances. We are also calling on the international community to provide some assistance because the government alone cannot manage with [its] limited resources”, he added.
Luac revealed that several schools and primary health care units have also been closed because it was not safe for children to continue their studies as many had collapsed or were partly submerged.
According to Luac, three children in Gogrial South have died as a result of disease, while several people also died after being bitten by snakes in Akon South and North.
“These people were bitten by the snakes because the area has been occupied by water [and] that makes it very difficult to know where snakes live and where they do not”, he said.
The commissioner said providing shelter for flood victims was the first priority followed by medicine, food and tools.
“I have made our appeal to the state government and the central government. Our problem is known. Everybody knows this. President [Salva] Kiir came here and he found it. We told him what is required at the moment”, he said.
“Our priority now is the shelter because people who have been affected need it. The second priority is medicines for humans and animals. The third is food and the fourth which is the last item on our request is tools because these people who have now been displaced would need tools after the water has receded to clear where they would like to [re]settle”, he added.
Luac explained that state governor Nyandeng Malek had responded positively to requests for assistance, sending 1,200 mosquitoes net and 100 tents to be distributed among flood victims.
However, he said a much wider coordinated response was needed to help those affected by flood waters.
These are just like a drop in the ocean because it is the whole area which has been affected”, he said.
Member of state parliament Ariec Mayar Ariec said his mother had survived the collapse of a building outside the state capital, Kuacjok.
Ariec said 13 people have died in the Thokrial, Gokadol and Gokakot areas, where some 6,100 people have been displaced and 510 households affected by rising flood waters.
According to Aiec the death toll included four children who died from disease and another two who drowned in floodwaters.
He said three people had been eaten by crocodiles, while several others died as a result of snake bites.
The legislator appealed to both the state and the national governments to quickly intervene to contain the crisis.
“My constituency has been badly affected and people are starting to get annoyed. I have gone to the county commissioner to see if there could be some assistance to the victims. They need tents and blankets with mosquito nets at the moment. I also talked to the state ministry of health and the response was positive. Three health personnel have now been deployed to the areas which are affected”, Ariec said, adding that medical personnel had also been deployed to Malek and Marol.