At least ten people have died in The Gambia after a violent windstorm swept the country on Wednesday night. Providing details on the casualties, the National Disaster Management Agency’s director Sanna Dahaba said nine people died in the North Bank Region while the other loss of life occurred in the West Coast Region.
Mr. Dahaba spoke in a press conference to explain the government’s response after the disastrous windstorm created nationwide havoc. He revealed that about 1531 people were displaced due to their shelter being destroyed, while over 3140 people were one way or the other affected by the catastrophe.
The NDMA director said the government’s response is being deployed to the affected people countrywide with the support of institutions such as the Gambia Red Cross Society, Action Against Hunger, WFP, and the Local Governments around the country.
Shortly before the National Disaster Management Agency’s press conference, President Adama Barrow was briefed about the catastrophe in an Emergency Meeting. The Gambian head of state asked that the relevant departments “Conduct a rapid assessment of the damages and advise the government accordingly.”
In a public statement by the State House press office, Adama Barrow says he extends his “Deepest condolences and sympathy to the families that lost their loved ones and empathized with victims, and all those affected throughout the country.”
Barrow also “Urged good samaritans to support in any way they can to ease the burden on affected families while his Government assesses the needed support.”
Apart from the loss of lives and heavy material damages, the windstorm crashed part of NAWEC’s transmission and distribution network across the country. Essentially, trees and wrecked branches fell on transmission lines causing extended blackouts. Consequently, the distribution of water and electricity was halted for over 12 hours in the Greater Banjul Area and has not resumed many parts of the country.
In Gunjur, Ahmed Manjang, an environmental protection activist, said, “The strong winds have caused massive disruption to services and destruction to properties.” According to Manjang, “For the past twenty-four hours, there is no electricity in and around Gunjur due to the damage to powerlines by the storm.”
In the kanifing municipality, the windstorms stroke every area. In a public statement, the Mayor of Kanifing expressed his “Sympathy and solidarity for the many families and businesses affected within the municipality.” He said the Council’s Department of Services had dispatched its field workers and open trucks to clear fallen trees and debris in strategic areas throughout the municipality.
Mayor Bensouda “Assures all residents that KMC will continue to do all in its ability to help in mitigating and preventing the escalation of future natural disasters.”
Citizens’ Alliance party leader Dr. Ismaila Ceessay said, “We extend our solidarity, sympathy, and support to all the families affected by Wednesday night’s storm in The Gambia. The catastrophic damages are highly consequential for the affected families, many of whom were already vulnerable to climate hazards and Environment degradation.”
The C.A leader, in a statement, “strongly urge the government of The Gambia to use all available resources to deploy an emergency response to deal with yesterday’s disaster and provide immediate support to every affected family.”
In his statement, Dr. Ceesay said, “Disasters caused by these hazards have become significantly severe, especially in countries, like The Gambia, where development planning did not prioritize disaster risk prevention.
As a result, it is time for The Gambia to enforce sustainable environmental policies that build resilient communities and societies in this context of climatic change and increasing natural hazards,” Dr. Ceesay said in his statement.