Recently the city of Atlanta, Georgia, experienced torrential rains that caused mayhem. First floor apartments were submerged, cars holed up in parking lots and drivers using the Downtown Connector were left stranded after the roads were flooded.
Reports attributed the flooding to a break in the water main. However, state officials say that rubbish on the highway and a strong thunderstorm were the major cause of stalled traffic on the busy downtown connector – in other words, something as simple as littering can lead to a serious incident. The Atlanta Department of Watershed Management attributed the flooding to clogged drainage. This department is said to have helped clear the storm drains at the downtown connector, before the Transport Department of Georgia unblocked the remaining drains consequently reducing the flooding.
In order to avoid another flooding disaster, the National Weather Service has issued flood alerts in the city of Chicago. This is due to snow thawing and anticipated rain on the horizon. Residents have been requested to be proactive by removing waste and debris off the streets which can lead to flooding.
Similarly, the city of Nairobi, Kenya – 20 hours away, by plane – has also been experiencing perennial rainfall that’s caused flooding leading to destruction of property and even loss of life. Earlier this month, heavy downpour caused flooding in most residential areas and power black outs. Many commuters spent hours on grid locked roads as cars were trapped by the rising waters. Being a reactive society, the county government through its City Hall Department availed a recovery fund of half a million Kenyan Shillings (almost €460 thousand), for unclogging blocked drains within the city. Thousands of youths from the National Youth Service were also deployed to assist in clearing the drains. However, this was only a temporary measure.
Within a few days, another heavy downpour locked down the only ultra modern superhighway in the city, the Thika. Massive sections of the road were impassable for hours and major snarl-ups were reported on most roads connecting to it. City residents attribute this latest flooding to a burst river bank and clogged drainage systems, and efforts to help clear the water and ease traffic on the highway were not forthcoming.
Rather, the water was left to clear on its own, taking several hours before there was free flow of vehicles. It is not the first time that this highway has been heavily flooded. In 2013 transport was paralysed and again sections of the road were impassable causing heavy traffic. This left many stranded in the city centre.
Nairobi residents and the government do not seem to have long terms plans of averting floods in the future, as is the case in Chicago. People continue to litter along the streets and roads carelessly and drains continue to fill with waste, silt and lush plants.
Words by Maren Okoth