Catastrophic Flooding Leaves 30+ Dead

( – Somalia typically features arid landscapes for most of the year. While the country has two monsoon seasons, they’re usually of short duration, barely able to provide enough water for crops to overcome the blistering heat. Yet, this year, the country is experiencing catastrophic flooding that has left more than 30 people dead and displaced over half a million.

Somalian Minister of Information Daud Aweis said powerful floods have already disrupted the lives of as many as 1.2 million people, causing extensive infrastructure damage in some regions. Flash floods, hitting without warning, have swept away children and the elderly.

The UN anticipated severe humanitarian impacts, especially for refugees who fled violent Islamic insurgents only to have to escape raging flood waters. UN estimates place the number of Somalians affected at 1.6 million.

Somalia isn’t alone. Kenya is also suffering devasting flooding that has killed at least 38 and displaced up to 30,000. The rains and flooding have affected arid and semi-arid regions the most, causing dams to break and rivers to leave their banks and flood entire towns.

Mohammed Abdikadir, a Kenyan Red Cross official, explained that the organization is facing a massive humanitarian crisis as thousands more people across northern Kenya require daily assistance. “The number is growing faster as rains continue,” he stated.

The deluge followed the region’s worst drought in 40 years. Some forecasters have characterized the flooding as a “100-year” event, meaning that statistically, the magnitude of flooding Somalia and Kenya are experiencing should only happen once in 100 years.

However, some argue the flooding became so extraordinary because two meteorological conditions coincided: El Niño and the Indian Ocean dipole. El Niño has contributed to much warmer Pacific sea surface temperatures and record temperatures in Japan. The Indian Ocean dipole effect is similar to El Niño in the Indian Ocean, connecting with Somalia, Tanzania, and Kenya.

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