Torrential rains caused devastating flooding and mudslides in Sierra Leone's capital on Monday, killing nearly 400 people. The Red Cross estimates a further 600 people are missing.
Beyond the loss of human life, dozens of homes were destroyed by the disaster, leaving over 3,000 people homeless.
First-responders are racing to find survivors, many of whom may be trapped under the mud that buried much of the city. President Ernest Bai Koroma has declared a state of emergency, and issued a plea for "urgent support" from the international community.
Reporting on a conversation with a local doctor, a BBC Journalist at the scene stated that "this compares to nothing he's seen before, and he's been doing this for decades — he says it doesn't compare to the country's civil war days, it doesn't compare to the outbreak of Ebola virus here, and it doesn't compare to any previous flood events here." A mass burial is expected once bodies have been identified, the BBC reports.
This is the second disaster in the last few years to hit Sierra Leone, which was at the epicenter of the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak that killed 1,400 people in the country. Stemming from that crisis, officials are increasingly worried that the aftermath of the mudslide, namely standing water and missing bodies, will promote the spread of disease.
The country of 6 million people is one of the poorest in the world, and was ravaged by West Africa's 2014-16 Ebola outbreak, which killed 4,000 people worldwide (WHO: Ebola Response Roadmap)
In addition to keeping Sierra Leone and its people in your thoughts and prayers, you can help the country overcome this crisis by donating to the following organizations that are already working to provide relief:
Red Cross Disaster Fund
No one know when the next disaster will come, but everyone knows that when it does, the Red Cross will be there. Red Cross teams were some of the first boots on the ground and worked alongside local officials to search the wreckage and pull survivors out of the mud in Freetown.
Since 2008, Street Child has worked to get the most vulnerable children in Sierra Leone access to a quality education in the midst of civil war and Ebola. Now they have launched a fundraising effort on the ground in Freetown. 100% of all donations received will be spent as quickly as possible on supporting their social and livelihood teams to help families get back on their feet.
UNICEF Disaster Relief
UNICEF has worked to help children and families since their conception in the aftermath of WWII. They've been in Sierra Leone to aid the children orphaned by Ebola and as of now, 109 children are reported among the victims from the flooding and mudslide.
World Vision Emergency Fund
International children's charity, World Vision has begun planning for a wide scale response to the Sierra Leone mudslide disaster, as efforts to rescue hundreds of people trapped in mud and rubble continue. James Chifwelu, Sierra Leone national director for World Vision is acting fast. "We have in stock over four million water purification tablets adequate to cover 2,000 households for a month, bandages, hand gloves, gauze, and all-purpose sponges among others."