Heavy rains have left a trail of destruction in parts of Nyanza and the South Rift where at least six people had died in the past 48 hours and hundreds of families have been displaced.
Homes have been marooned and residents lack basic necessities like food and bedding, amid fears of an outbreak of waterborne diseases.
In Kericho County, three children died in two separate incidents when mudslides hit Kipkelion West on Monday evening, while in Migori, a 28-year-old woman and her two children died when their house caved in.
The woman and her three children were asleep in their house in Koban estate in Migori town when tragedy struck. One child survived and was rushed to Migori Level Four Hospital.
In Kericho, several villagers were displaced and spent the night in the cold in local schools. Property of unknown value was destroyed as livestock was buried in the mud.
Several houses were swept away at Kamiwa and Kapkwen villages in Kokwet village.
Kabirong, Ngebebo, Kiptenden and Nyagisakia villages in the two civic wards of Kunyak and Kamasian have been hit hard. The Monday incident claimed the lives of three children in Kamasian and Kunyak wards in the same constituency.
On Tuesday, County Commissioner Moses Mbaruku led administrators and police in assessing the damage. They appealed to residents to move to safer ground.
Two people died in Kiptenden village in Kunyak ward and another inNyagisakia village in Kamasian ward. Both incidents occurred between 7pm and 9m on Monday, villagers and the police said.
One of the bodies was retrieved from the mud and taken to the Kericho County Referral Hospital mortuary while the other two were still at the scene by yesterday afternoon. The authorities had a difficult time accessing the area due to the rough terrain.
In Kisumu County, residents of Nyando and Nyalenda fear an outbreak of waterborne diseases after their homes were marooned by flood waters brought by the Lake Victoria backflow. Residents of Nanga, Lower Katuoro, Kapuothe and Dunga are now appealing for help.
In Chesogon on the border of Elgeyo-Marakwet and West Pokot counties, years of painstaking work building peace and cohesion between warring communities was undone in a flash by deadly mudslides last Saturday.
Mud, sludge and huge boulders laid waste to what was once a fast-rising urban centre, thanks to the return of peace in the volatile region. The tragedy came less than a year after Deputy President William Ruto led governors, MPs and hundreds of the town’s residents in celebrations last August over a hard-won peace after months of dialogue.
Since then, there has not been a single incident of banditry. And today would have been market day, teeming with hundreds of residents from both communities mingling freely with traders from as far as Nakuru, Eldoret and Iten.
Tuesday, instead, survivors stood around forlorn and downcast, counting their losses.
Everything had been destroyed: the local police station, hardware shops, Liter Secondary School, a goat auction, a Catholic church, the chief’s office … all gone.
“This is where the police station was. There were quite a number of officers who stayed there. I think they were 20 officers or so. Next was the chief’s office. Not far from there was a big shop that the owner had just restocked on Saturday just before tragedy struck. That tree is where the goat auction was always done on Wednesdays and Sundays,” said Mr Allan Korir.
With nature’s destructive finality, the surrounding hills were let loose upon the plains below, raining rock and sludge on the fledgling town.
Those lucky enough to survive the carnage described in horror a spectacle of nature’s fury that swallowed whole a busy town, killing at least 12 people. Over 20 were still missing by Tuesday. It is something they said they will never forget.
“I would be preparing to slaughter goats to sell their meat. Now I am struggling to locate where my butchery was,” said Ms Jackeline Koriimuk, who owned a butchery in the town and who was still recovering from the shock of losing stock worth Sh75,000.
For Mr Solomon Boisio, it was his fast legs that saved him. But he now has to live with heart-wrenching memories as he remembers all too vividly how the tragedy unfolded.
“I ran, crossed the river and stood on other side, which is higher and safe. Mud and rocks came crashing down the slopes. I saw people rushing to climb trees as they screamed for help. Others fell over and were swept away,” he said.
Reporting by Vitalis Kimutai, Victor Raballa, Ondari Ogega, Elizabeth Ojina, Ian Byron and Jeremiah Kiplang’at