Strong winds and heavy rains destroyed 256 houses last week in Kirehe district, Modeste Nzirabatinya, the Vice Mayor in charge of economic development in Kirehe district told The New Times. The disaster follows a warning by Rwanda Meteorology Agency that strong winds predicted would gust across most parts of the country especially in 23 districts. Strong wind speed ranging between 8 and 10 metres per second was expected over parts of Rutsiro, Karongi, Nyamasheke and Ngororero districts. Strong winds with speed ranging between 6 and 8 metres per second were expected in most of the remaining parts of the country except in parts of Kigali, Ngoma, Bugesera, Kamonyi and Gakenke districts. Nzirabatinya said that Kirehe district is usually vulnerable to strong winds due to its location in the region. The most affected sectors in this district include Musaza, Kirehe, Gatore, Nyamugali, Kigarama and Gahara. “So far, we have recorded 256 houses destroyed by the windstorm. Some houses have to be totally renovated, while people are being helped to roof their houses with iron sheets. We already got some support from the Red Cross and the ministry in charge of emergency management,” he said. The strong winds also destroyed a church, electric poles and 50 hectares of banana plantations. One resident was struck by lightning but fortunately survived. “Residents are urged to strengthen the roofs of their houses,” Nzirabatinya said. “Impacts associated with strong winds include blowing off of roof tops, falling of leaves and small branches, and damages caused by lightning are likely. Therefore, mitigation and prevention measures should be put in place,” Rwanda Meteorology Agency warns. From January to August, disasters claimed the lives of 137 people, according to the Ministry in charge of emergency management (MINEMA). The report shows that 271 people were injured by disasters. About 3,000 houses, 1,539 hectares of crops, 73 hectares of forests, two markets, 17 administrative offices, 261 classrooms, 60 sections of roads, 12 churches, and 52 bridges among other infrastructures were affected by disasters. Last year 2,685 hectares of crops were damaged by major disasters namely floods, landslides, lightning, mine disasters, hail, rainstorms and windstorms. Farmers have also lost 2,051 livestock while 3,977 houses were also damaged. According to the ministry, anti-erosion measures, planting trees among others should be embraced by farmers to avoid further damage. Other measures include rainwater harvesting, relocation from high-risk zones, strengthening roofs and ceilings, conservation of wetlands and buffer zones for water bodies and drainage rehabilitation among others.