Senegal under state of emergency after 'exceptionally' heavy rain triggers major flooding

Senegal under state of emergency after 'exceptionally' heavy rain triggers major flooding

A state of emergency has been activated in Senegal, West Africa, amid ongoing major floods across wide swaths of the country caused by heavy rains since September 5, 2020. Officials said parts of the country saw an exceptional amount of 124 to 200 mm (4.8 to 7.8 inches) of rain in 24 hours, which was more than the average rainfall for the month of September of 156.5 mm (6.2 inches). At least 6 people have lost their lives.

According to the National Agency for Civil Aviation and Meteorology (Anacim), the areas of Joal, Khombole, Sokone, Passy, Thiare, and Toubacouta all registered more than 200 mm (7.8 inches) of rain in a 24-hour period to September 5, which was more than 156.5 mm (6.2 inches)-- the average amount the country receives for the month of September.

Meanwhile, water minister Serigne Mbaye Thiam said the rain that fell on Saturday was "exceptional", and the amount was more than what the country would usually receive during three months of the rainy season.

"This is an exceptional rainfall. We registered 124 mm (4.8 inches) of rain. This is the cumulative rain we get during the whole rainy season from July to September," he noted.

Rufisque, a suburb of the capital Dakar recorded 210 mm (8.2 inches) of rain on September 5, leaving thousands of residents homeless. Dakar's average September rainfall is 150 mm (5.9 inches); the yearly average is 469 mm (18.4 inches).

Local media reported at least six fatalities due to flood-related incidents-- three were in Sedhiou, two in Kaolack, and one in Dakar. Widespread flooding prompted president Macky Sall to declare a state of emergency.

In Guediawaye District, volunteers have started clearing the debris from a heavily-inundated health center.

"More than five communities use this health center and we are desperate and we don’t know what to say and ask for help," resident Momodou Baye Fall told Reuters. "We have seen no mayor, no councilor, no firefighters. We have seen no one."

More heavy rainfall and flooding are expected across the Dakar region this week.

Featured image credit: Red Cross Camberene local committee

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