Flood tales from hospital

At St Joseph’s Mission Hospital at Nguludi in Chiradzulu, village head N’nunkha is battling for her life after sustaining injuries when her house collapsed on March 7 during the incessant rains that lasted four days.

The village head, real name Fanny Kazembe, from Traditional Authority (T/A) Mpama in the district, is in pain. She fractured her collar bone, right arm, foot and her back bone. She cannot sit.

Kazembe’s house reduced to rubble

Her guardian, Anne Chinaima, says the chief eats while lying on the bed.

Said the guardian: “It is even hard to take her to the washrooms as she is in deep pain.”

Chinaima recalls that the traditional leader’s condition was worse on the day she and other villagers were taken to hospital.

“She was badly hurt. Some of us feared for her life. We wanted to take her to Chiradzulu District Hospital, but the road was cut off before the hospital. So, we went to Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QECH),” she says.

That was Friday March 8. They were discharged on Tuesday, March 14 to be treated as an outpatient. However, some well-wishers took her to the mission hospital at Nguludi.

In an interview, St Joseph’s Hospital administrator Sister Mercy Kanyombo said most of the injured people were referred to her establishment from Chiradzulu District Hospital for X-ray services.

She said: “These people were coming in groups of tens and scores for X-ray service as this facility was not available at the district hospital.

“This woman [the chief] came on her own as a victim. She was not referred here either by Chiradzulu District Hospital or QECH.”

On the night their house collapsed, there were eight people, including seven orphans she takes care of. They all sustained injuries with one girl admitted to Qech while the others were treated as outpatients.

The children are now being kept by Timotheos Foundation at Ntonda in Chiradzulu as their home is gone and their guardian in hospital.

The old woman from Mpama is one of the many people injured during the floods that occurred in the country following heavy rain from March 5 to March 8. The floods caused havoc in 17 of the country’s 28 districts, injuring 370 of the 922 945 affected people and killing 56.

Kazembe recounts the tragedy with pain, claiming it was napolo [flash floods] that nearly killed her and the seven children.

She said: “In the midst of the heavy rains in the middle of the night, I took the children out of the house. But something inside of me told me something bad was going to happen.”

While outside, she recalls hearing a sound like that of an aeroplane flying above her home. The rain continued to pour heavily; hence, she decided to take the children back into the house, hoping they would be safer there from the fury of nature outside.

When we visited her home in Chiradzulu North, we learnt from the people that the noise Kazembe heard was from Fafafa River whose source is Chiradzulu Mountain. But the people agree with Kazembe that it was napolo.

Her house, now a rubble, was built one and a half kilometres from the mountain.

After four days of incessant rain, Fafafa River burst its banks, carrying rock-ashes mixed with mud. The ‘porridge’ flowed down, covering maize fields while stray rocks from the mountain flew and rolled, hitting houses in their passage.

Kazembe’s house, like several others in the village, was smashed by the rocks. She and the seven children were now being washed away by the ‘porridge’ amid the downpours.

They were rolled and battered against the moving rocks before being trapped in a network of trees in the field. They were rescued the same night by some men from the neighbouring Jumbe Village who were alerted by an 18-year-old boy who managed to escape.

About 992 households are affected in T/A Mpama. But the heavy rain affected all the six T/As in the district, namely Mpama, Chitera, Kadewere, Likoswe, Ntchena and Nkalo and left three children dead and scores injured. More than 28 381 have been affected. Some are seeking refuge in schools and churches.

Chiradzulu district commissioner (DC) Malango Bottomani has appealed to well-wishers to assist people congested in classrooms and churches.

“We need assistance in health, sanitation and food as these people are now rendered homeless and helpless,” she said.

The DC has since asked people in camps not to go back to their areas before the rainy season to avoid further accidents.

“We need assistance in health, sanitation and food as these people are now rendered homeless and helpless,” she said.

The DC has since asked people in camps not to go back to their areas before the rainy season to avoid further accidents.

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