Entire families wandered around the outskirts of Gambia’s capital Banjul in search of shelter on Thursday, after an overnight windstorm levelled scores of houses in some of the country’s western districts and claimed at least 10 lives.
“The wind destroyed the roof of my house … and my situation is devastated because of lack of finance,” said Amadou Marong, who was taken in by a neighbour after the winds carried off the sheet-metal roofing that protected him from the rain.
Many of the small African nation’s coastal urban areas remained without electricity or running water on Thursday evening, after utility infrastructure was damaged by heavy winds, rain and flooding.
At least 10 people were killed during the storm, which landed around midnight, and more than 1,500 people displaced, according to government figures.
“Any soul lost as a result of a disaster is a big loss to the country,” Sanna Dahaba, who heads Gambia’s Natural Disaster Management Authority, told a news conference on Thursday.
“The government is not taking the plight of citizens lightly,” he said, adding that the agency would welcome any assistance from international partners.
Gambian President Adama Barrow held an emergency meeting on Thursday afternoon to assess the damage and devise a response plan, a statement from his office said.
“President Barrow is calling on all Gambians and good samaritans to come forward and support the victims in any way they can while his Government assesses the needed support,” the statement read.