Tuesday August 8 2017

My Story: Surviving the floods in Katwe


By Nuwa Nyanzi

This afternoon the downpour in Kampala found me in a church building in Katwe near where the movie Queen of Katwe was shot. I was with a team from IRC for whom I am doing an assessment of urban refugee projects they support. When it started raining I ignored it since I was sheltered in the comfort of God's House. In fact I continued with interviewing a respondent and was enjoying every moment of it.

Then I noticed water trickling in and some people stood up to go and see the rain water that was rushing past the church entrance. I noticed the trickle had become steady and was increasing. The water had decided to come to church.

Watch video of floods
Before we knew it, half of the floor on the lower side where we were sitting on plastic chairs had been submerged. We were advised to move to the upper side hoping for the rain to stop at any time.
On noticing that we had moved to the higher side, the water too decided to follow us. Our hosts immediately advised us to move to the altar which we did. No sooner had we stepped up on the raised platform than the water too stepped up its speed to rise to our level.

This was when we were advised to evacuate to a safer place. We had to wade through the water that was ankle-high by this time. The lady in our group was more worried about her shoes and would probably have wished to be carried or sit it out. I wouldn't have any of that so I resorted to evacuation mode and politely commanded her to get moving. Grudgingly, she took off her shoes one by one. Meanwhile the water level was rising.

We headed for the exit where it was pouring. She dashed out and instead of heading to the house where all the others had gone, she made a left turn and sprinted toward the direction where we had left the van.
I followed suit hoping to catch up with her before she attempted to cross the newly formed river. I reached her and discouraged her from jumping over the rushing water because any slight mistake would most likely result in a nasty accident.

The temptation to jump over kept on going through her mind because according to her, waiting for the rain to stop would be useless; the water would keep on flowing.
At this point, I spotted an iron fabricated gate and inquired from a young man who was standing next to us to whom it belonged. He said it was his and I asked if it was okay for him to let us use it as a bridge at a fee. He agreed and a few minutes later he was $1.50 richer (about Shs5,400), and I poorer and wetter but safer.
Glory be to God we survived.