November Newsletter: Response and Recovery

On the morning of August 15, over a thousand people lost their lives in a landslide coming down from Mount Sugarloaf.

The first hours of the response were hectic and intense. The Government of Sierra Leone set up a command center close to the beginning of the slide, which was later measured to have traveled over 5 kilometers, through populated areas all the way down to the ocean.

UN, NGOs and other partners gathered to support the efforts – setting up registration for those who had been displaced, buying pickaxes and assisting wounded with medical help.

It was foggy, and response workers trying to rescue those trapped under the mud could not see more than a couple of feet in front of them, making the exercise both dangerous and difficult. During the few moments when the fog lifted, all the people who had gathered at the site could see the vast magnitude of the disaster. Some gasped, other cried and screamed at the realization that their loved ones were gone.

The first days and weeks were spent providing comfort to the survivors – water, somewhere to sleep, food, psychosocial support – while recovery planning started almost immediately. How can we build back better? Were there other areas that were vulnerable and should be evacuated? Where should the 5000 people who had lost their homes go when the temporary camps were shut down?

In this edition of the UN Sierra Leone newsletter, you will find examples of what the UN has been doing to help respond to the needs after the disaster on August 14. You will also hear personal stories from survivors – what are their stories, dreams and hopes for the future?

Together, they tell the story of what happens after disaster hits.You can read the newsletter below or on Sway.