Wednesday, February 18, 2009

700 homeless

Waghi River bursts its banks in Dei




MORE than 700 people in the Dei area of Western Highlands province are homeless after the Waghi River burst its banks in the early hours of yesterday, The National reports.

The flooding was caused by heavy rain in the area, but villagers were also pointing fingers at road construction work being carried out in the area.

Mothers and their children grabbed whatever they could and scrambled to safety as the water level rose, partially submerging their homes.

It was estimated that about 25ha of land was under water, including food gardens and cash crops. Domesticated animals like pigs and other livestock were lost as the mighty river burst its banks, and began flooding the area around 2am while people were still asleep.

In the area visited by The National, 26 houses including a building belonging to the Catholic church were partially under water.

The flood hit the village near the Waghi Bridge at the Kondopina area at the border of Dei and Anglimp-South Waghi districts.

Most people living there are originally from the Simbu province. They have lived in the area for the last 42 years.

They told The National that this was one of the worst natural disasters they had ever encountered.

Community leader Gabriel Nolai wanted two construction companies working in the area and the Works Department to accept some of the blame for the flooding in the area, saying they had failed to provide a culvert to drain out excess water.

Mr Nolai said with the food gardens gone, people were likely to face starvation. They would also be exposed to waterborne diseases.

He appealed for outside help.

Ward councillor Yer Bom also said the disaster was the worst ever experienced by his people.

Frustrated villagers yesterday morning stopped eight trucks and machinery owned by a construction company from moving through the area.

Heavy rain in the Highlands was causing flooding in parts of the region, destroying food gardens and tree crops, and leaving people homeless.

It is understood the heavy rain and tidal surges in the coastal areas are associated with the La Nina weather pattern.


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