Shabelle River Flood Update Issued 22 May 2023
For close to two weeks, Belet Weyne town and its surrounding areas have witnessed widespread and devastating floods occasioned by the Shabelle River bursting its banks on the 9th May 2023. The river has remained at a bankful height of 8.30 meters up to the current date of May 22nd. The widespread flooding has resulted to property damage, and population displacement. Over the last two days, the flood water has begun slowly receding from Belet Weyne town and the surrounding areas back into the river, and progressively flow downstream. Subsequently, the river level at Bulo Burte has steadily risen, with today’s (22nd May) level just 13 cm below the high flood risk level. The river level at Jowhar has stagnated below moderate flood risk level (5.0 m) since the beginning of the Gu rain season. Today’s level is 3.75 m and is exactly equal to its normal mark in this season. Although the loss of flood water through overbank spillage between Belet Weyne and Bulo Burte explains the delay in Jowhar river level rise, it is expected that the high river levels at Bulo Burte will be transmitted to Jowhar and eventually to Balcad within the coming week. No rains have been reported in the last week over South Central Somalia including the entire stretch of Shabelle River from Belet Weyne to Balcad. Although light rains to dry conditions are predicted over the coming week, the steady rise in river levels at Bulo Burte poses a HIGH-RISK OF FLOODING in the town and the adjacent areas. A MODERATE RISK OF FLOODING is foreseen in Jowhar and the adjacent areas over the same period. Given the expected loss of water to overbank spillage and breakages along the Shabelle river channel, the risk of flooding reduces as the waters flow downstream to Balcad. Therefore, as the flood water recedes back to the river, residents of Belet Weyne are urged to beware of crocodiles that could have escaped the river on to the floodplains. They should also beware of the risks of drowning. As the residents prepare to relocate back to the previously flooded areas, housing structures need to be assessed for safety. In order to prevent water borne diseases, proper hygiene including disinfection measures such as chlorination of water sources should be adopted. The residents of Bulo Burte should prepare for potential evacuation by identifying safe routes to high grounds and gathering essential items, inform family, friends, and neighbors about the flood warning, secure property and consider assembling an emergency kit with necessary supplies. Residents are also strongly recommended to stay informed through regular bulletin updates at specified times, monitor thorough radio, television and internet for flood warnings. Any open or weak river embankments within Jowhar should be closed and reinforced.
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