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Somalia:People flee to caves to escape Puntland storms

14/11/2013-Puntland coast in Eyl. This was one of the centres of the tropical
cyclone that struck land. He described what happened and how people
living there have been affected.

Shaur: As soon as we received the storm alert, we started conducting
awareness among the community in Eyl district. We immediately
contacted the fishermen who were at sea and told them there was a
storm with winds of 75 kilometres per hour due to reach them at around
3:00 pm. All the boats were safely moved out of the sea and the
residents cooperated well and alerted almost everyone. As a result, a
lot of people survived.

Radio Ergo: Where did problems occur?

Shaur: The problems happened in large rural areas between Hafun and
Eyl, which are very difficult to reach due to the poor
telecommunications and infrastructure. Many lives were lost and there
are a huge number of people who are missing. 12 people whom I
personally know have died. The people tried to hide from the storm and
rains in caves, but most of the caves were partially destroyed or
collapsed in the storms. This morning, we have seen thousands of dead
livestock washed up onto the shore. We think it was the storms and
heavy rains that swept these animals into the sea from the rural
areas.

Radio Ergo: What are you now planning to do in response to the disaster?

Shaur: We are now searching for bodies and finding out the exact
number of people who have died in the storm. And our plan is also to
search for any survivors. The numbers of dead livestock are countless
and there is almost nothing or very few heads of livestock that the
tropical cyclone has left behind.

Radio Ergo: How is the situation now and are any further storms or
rain expected?

Shaur: There are no rains pouring now and the sun is shining, but
rains are expected in the coming days. That could make the situation
worse, because the soil is already so wet and unstable, so no one can
walk over it. There are no vehicles moving around the area.
Humanitarian assistance can only be delivered by air.

Radio Ergo: How can you reach people in the rural areas and other
places where there are no connections?

Shaur: We are working with the local administration to reach these
people in remote or far areas. But the main problem here is that there
is no way vehicles can reach there.

Radio Ergo: How have the people reacted to the SWALIM alerts?

Shaur: People have immediately reacted. All the people who were in the
sea were immediately alerted. The livestock were taken to safe sites.
But the worst problems happened in the interior rural areas around
Hafun. We have also informed people to move away from lower ground and
the coastal areas to highlands for their own safety.

Radio Ergo: Currently, is any aid being delivered to these areas?

believe belong to NATO [EU Naval Force operating counter-piracy
patrols off Somali coast] that have delivered aid in some areas.

Radio Ergo: What did the people say about this tropical cyclone? Had
they ever experienced such?

Shaur: They compared this to the Tsunami which hit these coastal areas
in 2004. However, no such storms and torrential rains have ever hit
these coastal districts.

Radio Ergo: The dead livestock that came ashore along the coast can
cause diseases. Are there any fears of the outbreak of diseases?

Shaur: We have informed the administration about the problem. While
partnering with aid agencies, the local administration should do
something about it.

Elsewhere, Radio Ergo Producer, Fatuma Moalim Abukar, contacted a
traditional elder living in Kardafu, one of the areas hit by the
storm, situated at the far north-eastern tip of Somalia. Osman Mohamed
Shire, known as Karjule, described how the storm had affected his
community.

Karjule: The storms and floods have left three of the five villages of
Kardafu cut off. The heavy rains are still pouring in the areas that
have no communication with the rest of Kardafu and no-one can reach
them with road vehicles. The humanitarian assistance and other support
can only reach us from the sea. So far, I can confirm the death of
one person in the rural areas, while 13 other fishermen who were

whereabouts. However, there is not much information available about
the exact number of people who may have died.

Radio Ergo: So, what is the level of destruction in the area?

Shaur: More than 35 houses have been destroyed and people are hiding
in buildings that are strong enough to stand up against the heavy
winds and rains. More than three boats were destroyed by the storm and
also almost all of the livestock in the area was killed. Some camels
were left alive, but all the goats are dead.

But I have no information about the places beyond my area. The storm
has damaged the telecommunications and possibly the losses are much
higher than what I can tell you. Kardafu is situated at the meeting
point of the Indian Ocean and Red Sea and the only road which is open
for us is the sea.

By Rahmo Isack

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