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Killer Wind Wreaks Havoc

Daily Guide
26 May 2012 | Opinion/Feature
An unprooted tree. INSET: A damaged car
An unprooted tree. INSET: A damaged car

The country was ushered into an unusual rainy season last Saturday when a serene and sunny afternoon turned into a tempestuous atmosphere characterized by a rainstorm that destroyed property and lives.

The unusual rainstorm that swept through the southern part of the country at about 2:30pm left behind uprooted trees, torn-down branches, with advertisement billboards bowing to the storm.

Some roofs were ripped off in the course of the rainstorm; live wires were left lying in the open from fallen electricity cables, resulting in parts of the country being plunged into darkness. Power is not yet restored to some part of the country.

The Ghana Meteorological Agency says the strong winds and rain blew into Accra from Nigeria, Benin and Togo and was headed toward Cape Coast and Takoradi and then westward to Cote d'Ivoire.

The agency says although the wind was moderate whilst blowing in, it gathered momentum with the speed going up to 50 knots per hour as it entered Ghana.

Katey Dorgbey, head of the hydro meteorological disaster unit of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), says the storm was unusual.

He however attributes the high level of damage to poor infrastructure in the affected communities.

Katey says most of the houses and structures in disaster prone communities are poorly built and located, making the degree of the disaster more severe.

He however says the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) is responsible for the cleanup of the city after the storm.

Alfred Vanderpuijie, AMA boss, says the city authorities are assessing the extent of damage and will bring the situation under control.

The Electricity Company of Ghana technicians were also on the field working to restore power supply to parts of Accra which experienced blackouts.

By the time the rainstorm was over, five lives had been lost along the coastal belts of the country, with casualties still being counted, according to media reports.

A man believed to be a chief was killed by a falling tree at a place called Water Works at Mallam, a suburb of Accra. Three children lost their mother, Binta Husseini, a resident of Mamobi near Nima, when she got electrocuted in her quest to remove a pillow from an electrified roof.

At a place not far away from the offices of DAILY GUIDE , a young man, Antar Abdul Hamid, who had visited his mechanic friend, escaped death but got his car mangled when he tried to flee the approaching storm.

In Cape Coast, a Nigerian woman and her seven-year-old daughter were killed when a tree fell on their shop at a place called Pedu.

Kwame Suley, an 18-year-old, was also killed by a falling tree at Awoshie near Anyaa when the storm broke a branch of a tree which fell on him, killing him instantly.

DSP Freeman Tettey, the Accra Regional PRO, said the body of the teenager has since been deposited at the Police Hospital awaiting autopsy.

Millicent Fiebor, a phone credit vendor at Kwame Nkrumah Circle, who spoke to DAILY GUIDE , says another credit vendor was seriously injured on the head by flying debris.

She says the victim of the rainstorm has been receiving treatment from the hospital.

Fallen trees also blocked portions of busy roads in the nation's capital.

Some advertising agencies whose client's billboards were destroyed were seen moving around parts of the city removing their clients' corporate logos and sign posts.

Katey notes that although NADMO has not yet assessed the cost of damage caused by the rain storm, it runs into millions of Ghana Cedis.

He says NADMO has deployed its rapid response team in collaboration with Zoomlion and other stakeholders to clean up the city.

He says the organization has assessed and begun giving out relief items to houses and schools.

'We gave a school in Nima East roofing sheets, timber 2×4 and 2×6 woods for reconstruction,' Katey says.

Uncertainty runs in the minds of city residents, especially those living in low lying areas. The Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMA) has served notice that coastal areas in the country are likely to experience another strong wind.

War Of Words Over The Rainstorm
The Advertisers Association of Ghana (AAG) and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) locked horns over who is to blame for the fallen billboards.

The AAG is accusing the AMA of being responsible for the collapse of the billboards but the AMA thinks otherwise.

AAG says the AMA is only concentrating on collecting revenues from advertisers to the neglect of safety standards.

Those precautions, the association notes, have been swept under the carpet, with the ability to pay now the tag line of the AMA.

In a press release to react to the comments made by the association, the AMA boss says while most of the destroyed billboards are mainly attributed to the rainstorm, 'it is also noted that a large number of the billboards has not been subjected to the expected maintenance or refurbishment over the last couple of years'.

He asked outdoor advertising agencies and the public not to re-mount the collapsed billboards until they receive prior approval from the city authority.

He said the AMA will not renege on its responsibility to rid the city of illegal structures and billboards.

Preparations For More Storms
The GMA has said a similar storm could visit Ghana in the next few weeks and has advised the public to keep a constant eye on trees within their compounds to ensure that their roots are firm enough to stand the storm.

It also advised the public to check their roofing and buildings to ensure they are strong enough to stand the rainstorm.


NADMO has also made its relief items accessible to flood-prone areas in the country as it intensifies its educational campaign in preparation for the rainy reason.

'Before the beginning of the rains, we plan for them,' Katey says.

Katey notes that the organization has located all disaster-prone areas and provided a shaven to relocate people should the need arise.

The organization has also prepositioned the food and non-food items it had in its warehouse to other regions of the country.

'We do this so that when there is a disaster they will not have to wait for Greater Accra before they provide relief items to people,' Katey says.

He has called for more support from government and corporate Ghana.

NADMO has also launched a national building guide for lightly-loaded structures in disaster-prone areas in Ghana as part of its disaster risk reduction strategy.

The code's goal is to equip artisans and developers with basic knowledge in the construction of lightly-loaded structures, especially in hazardous prone areas of Ghana.

Most buildings that get affected during natural disaster are located in unauthorized places while others are built without reference to planning schemes.

Katey says citizens are yet to come to terms with the building code. 'With time people will understand it,' he adds.

His advises that building permits be signed by a NADMO official so artisans will adhere to the building regulations.

Katey says the organization is also trying to do away with structures built on water ways to allow the free flow of rainwater during the rainy season, although they are constantly met with stiff opposition.

He says with the unexpected rains that occur in recent times, it is appropriate for builders and homeowners to adhere to the planning schemes and plant trees to act as wind breaks because, 'we cannot do anything about it'.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article." © Daily Guide

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