Street Flooding in Accra

The rainy season is well underway in Ghana!


Yesterday afternoon, I left the house to eat at a local restaurant and then visit friends in Roman Ridge, where I used to live. Shortly after my plate of Thai noodles arrived, the power went out. I looked outside, noticing how ominous the sky had become during my meal.

I needed to get my bill ASAP. I looked around the dark restaurant for the waiter; he was nowhere to be seen.

As thunder continued to sound; I approached the door of the kitchen. I knocked several times, only to get no response from within. I gingerly opened the door, and found exactly what I was looking for. My waiter was sitting in a chair, with his head leaning against a desk. He was fast asleep. I cleared my throat, and he lurched awake. “Eii sorry-o,” he repeated several times.

After receiving my bill, I grabbed money from my wallet and quickly placed it on his bed [desk]. Rushing out of the kitchen, I grabbed my bag and reached for the door. But alas, my speed was in vain.

Zeus was having a major temper tantrum. The sky – bleak and gray – was lit up with continual flashes of lightning. The rain was coming down nearly sideways. A few brave souls could be seen outside covering their heads with plastic bags and dashing for the nearest bus stop.

Leaving the restaurant at this time would’ve been madness, so I sat and read The Dressmaker of Khair Khana for the next hour. As soon as there was a lull in the storm, I threw my Kindle in my man-bag and ran for the main road.

I underestimated the extent to which the storm had slowed. It was still pouring; in the 20 seconds it took me to reach the main road, my clothes were drenched.  I tried flagging down a taxi, but none would stop because the right lane of the two-lane road was flooded.

It was raining so hard that it was difficult to keep my eyes open; I couldn’t keep waiting for a taxi on the side of the road. I ran for a balcony covering nearby, where several Ghanaians stood there waiting for the rain to finish. As I approached, they scooted over and made room. All eyes were on me, the obruni, as I proceeded to squeeze out a steady stream of water from my drenched clothing.

Over the next two hours, I stood under the balcony with the women and children [and recorded the video above]. I was soaked to the core and shivering from wind gusts. Nonetheless, I was kept amused by watching people make their way through the street. Schoolgirls waded through the water, holding their dresses high to not become dirty from the murky water. A ‘pure’ water seller balanced her bucket upside-down on her head to use as a makeshift umbrella. At one point a motorcycle driver sped through the flood water at 30+ MPH, creating a stream of water that rose high above his head.

At long last, the rain slowed to a drizzle. I said goodbye to my friends whom I shared the cover with, and waded through the knee-deep water to reach a trotro. I got off at my street junction, elated to finally make it home.

My heart sunk when my eyes beheld the following sight:

The above ‘river’ is the dirt road to my house. After unsuccessfully waiting for 30 minutes for the water to recede, I went to a internet cafe to waste the day away. At night I returned, found a taxi driver crazy enough to drive through foot-deep water to my driveway, and took a much-needed shower before falling fast asleep.