‘Terrible,’ said Dr. Robert Tiondi to a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) after recent flash flooding in Uganda damaged the majority of facilities and infrastructure in the western Kasese region including Kilembe Mines Hospital. ‘I was submerged by water up to my waist, trying to get all of the patients out and to a safe place. We hardly had any time but we did what we could to save their lives.’
The SRT has been in the region assessing the need for emergency shelter following torrential rains that caused flash floods in May.
‘The Kilembe Mines Hospital has been hit really hard, as have the homesteads and the infrastructure further up the river for the next 3-4 kilometres (2-3 miles), including roads, power lines and sewage pipes,’ said SRT member Eric DeLuca (US).
‘But the community here has united to help each other; families that still have their homes have invited those displaced families to stay with them as they all begin rebuilding their lives.’
With tears in her eyes, Sister Theresa Kamugole, the hospital administrator, described another employee as being stranded on the opposite bank of the river. He was standing on his roof waiting for help until his roof succumbed to the river and he was forced to grab onto a small tree. Luckily they found a rope to throw to the man just in time for him to be pulled across the raging river.
Despite all of their hard work to evacuate the patients and staff, two new born babies were among the nine casualties as they were not able to make it to an alternative facility in time, like the other patients. The 200-bed hospital remains without power or sanitation and hygiene facilities.
‘Following our assessments, the priorities for aid are sanitation, hygiene, clothes and food, but because of the kindness the community and local government have shown to the affected families the shelter needs have been covered this time round.’
ShelterBox responds to multiple disasters in Uganda every year as the African country is prone to flooding. Sometimes the need is too small to send any aid. However to enable ShelterBox to respond quickly and to smaller pockets of need, the disaster relief charity is researching into storage options for ShelterBox aid in Uganda. The SRT is currently meeting with humanitarian agencies in Uganda to explore prepositioning possibilities.