This placed pressure on the river banks, the overflow then brought down bridges, collapsed buildings and houses, turned ships on their side and gutted villages. Honiara, the capital suffered the greatest damage as it is situated along the banks of the river.
Rudaba Khondker spokesman for Save the Children Development Program (Solomon Islands) said that more than 16 evacuation centres had been set up in schools and other public buildings to provide shelter for over 10,000 homeless people. A huge proportion of a city with a population of only 70,000. With differing reports of the number dead, it seems to be around 23, with more than 30 reported missing. (northernstar.com.au)
Locals cry out on social media
While mainstream media stayed silent on this disaster for 3 days, social media began trickling out devastating stories and photos of destruction and loss.
Stalin Konainao (Facebook) "Australia and NZ, we need your search and rescue teams ASAP, now relatives and public are digging and stuff :( ...
"Today will be a day I will never forget. A swim in the rain turned into rescue efforts. Manage to help 2 women (1 pregnant) and 1 young man, but unfortunately we tried all we could, in the end we watch helplessly as the rubble filled waves swallowed this 7/8 yr old boy [I cried]. But we didn't stop..... I shout warning alarms at the top of my voice but in the midst of the women, men, children, an entire family keep floating down the rubble....sad, sad day....please Pray."
Israel Sibia (Facebook) "I am thinking of all the people who lost their lives during this trying time, whole families were swept away as people watched helplessly. A woman was seen struggling to save herself but knowing the current was too strong she just raise her hand as she made her last gasp and vanished into the water. God :'(...this is too much, help us!"
Villages cut off to supplies
Roads to villages have been cut off making food and water supply difficult. More than 40,000 people are estimated to be affected in outer rural areas. The threat of disease is looming in cut off villages as well as in evacuation centres with limited access to fresh water and the already prevalent dengue fever. The sewerage system has broken down, communication is patchy and with only 20 doctors in the entire country, the situation is looking dire.
Oxfam, Red Cross, Save the Children and World Vision (to name a few organisations) already work within Solomon Islands and are stretched to the maximum. With the airport having been closed for most of this tragic 6 days, the manpower has been limited.
This disaster is real and the Solomon Islands people require a real and practical helping hand.
Aid organisation reports
Katie Greenwood from Oxfam reports on ABC radio's 'The World Today', "Honiara is geographically cut in half by the river that broke its banks. It has two bridges that cross the river. One has been washed away and the second has been closed on and off. These major logistical issues are hampering the efforts to try and get out to those more remote villages and actually see what the situation is."
World Vision National Director Andrew Catford interviewed on Australian Network News explains, "Funding can hamper relief efforts. The funding doesn't come in as quickly as you are needing to implement. Certainly that has been the case so far. There has been some good support, but the sooner we get that the quicker we can respond. Even ourselves as an aid agency you start going into the red every day trying to serve the people here as quickly as you can. And also given the scale of this, it's not going to be a terribly cheap exercise to get those people back on their feet."
Here are some ways to help
Click on the links below to donate to organisations working on the ground in the Solomon Islands, striving to bring clean water, health assistance, clean up and basic items to those affected by the flood.
Those on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland can help by donating clothes, bedding, towels, kitchen cooking utensils and pots and pans (a shipping container will be leaving early May). Please contact Roy Funu at email@example.com.
Belinda Croft is a News Reporter for Press Service International.