Odogwu Emeka Odogwu, Awka, Isaac Ojo, Nnewi, Steve Oko, Umuahia, and Angela Nkwo Akpolu, Owerri, write that the recent flood disaster that hit several communities in the South-South geo-political zone resulted to the loss of several lives and destruction of property worth billions of naira.
Not many people living in the coastal areas of the country took the warning sounded in August by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) about impending flood disaster seriously. The reason for this may not be unconnected with the fact that there was no heavy rainfall as at that time.
But a month down the line, the narrative has changed. The rains have become torrential, with the people counting their losses due to the furious flood all over the coastal areas.
Floods sack 10,000 people in Anambra state, kill 12
For instance, in Ogwuaniocha, Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra state, ten people reportedly lost their lives to the flood, while many were reported missing.
A nine-year-old girl identified as Benedict Uzo, was reportedly killed by the flood disaster that struck Amiyi in Ogbaru LGA of Anambra State.
The Chairman of Ogbaru LGA, Mr. Arinze Awogu told newsmen that the deceased drowned while fetching water with a bucket.
The road that connects Ozubulu in Ekwusigo LGA of the state and Atani in Ogbaru council area was taken over by flood. In fact, people now use canoe to evacuate their families and property through what is supposed to be a tarred road.
In Anambra West LGA, the raging flood took over the entire communities in the area, including the Diocese of Mbamili Cathedral Church of St Michael Umuikwu Anam.
The Bishop’s Court, which houses the Bishop of Mbamili Diocese Rt. Rev. Henry Okeke, was also submerged by the flood. Bishop Okeke said all the forty five churches in his Diocese were affected by the flood that ravaged Anambra West.
The Executive Director, Anambra State Emergency Management Agency, said the flood destroyed over 200 hectares of rice farm at Omor in the Ayamelum Local Government Area of the state.
Meanwhile, last week, the ravaging flood in Ogbaru LGAof the state, claimed the lives of 18-year-old Okechukwu Osadebe, son of the late highlife maestro, Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, and Chief Ojike Ajanwa of Umuokpalaoma kindred, Obolo village, Ogwuaniocha.
Mrs. Amaechi Osadebe, Okechukwu’s mother, said the deceased was swept away by the flash flood in the night, giving him no opportunity to swim out of danger.
Mrs. Chinasa Ajanwu, mother of nine children, and wife of late Chief Ajanwa, said she received a message that her husband got drowned while he was attempting to evacuate cassava harvested from his farm to the Holding Center located at Ogwuaniocha Community Primary School.
Meanwhile, the Anambra State government has opened centers where relief materials can be sent to alleviate the sufferings of people gravely affected by flood disaster in seven local government areas of the state.
The centers are Anambra State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, along the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, Awka, and at the headquarters of Ogbaru, Ayamelum, Awka North, Anambra East, Anambra West, Onitsha North, Onitsha South and Ihiala Local Government Areas.
The deluge which was more pronounced in Ogbaru, Anambra East and West, as well as Ayamelum LGA, has sacked over ten thousand people from their homes, schools, offices, farms, markets and places of worship.
According to a statement by the State Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, the affected persons are desperately in need of foodstuffs, drinking water, cooking utensils, mattresses, mats, beds, buckets, clothes, healthcare and sanitary facilities”.
Imo state, Pastor and wife killed by flood
The Head of Imo/Abia Operations Office, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Evans Ugoh, said that a pastor and his wife were killed by the ravaging flood that swept through Oguta community in Imo State.
He further said that Oguta and Ohaji/Egbema LGAs were affected by the floods, with farmlands submerged in water.
According to him, the Orachi River and Oguta Lake, have both risen above the 2012 level, and due to the persistent rise in the sea level, a possible flooding may occur. He listed communities under threat as Ossemotto, Oguta, Eziorsu and Orsuobodo, Opuowa, Mmahu and Etekwuru.
Over 5,000 flood victims were recorded in Ebonyi state
Our correspondent reports that a four-day heavy downpour in Ebonyi state has resulted to serious flooding in Akaeze and Amasiri communities in Ivo and Afikpo North Local Government Areas of the state.
The flood reportedly sacked more than 5000 people in the two local government areas, destroying properties worth millions, of naira, farmland and livestock. The affected residents were forced to take refuge in schools and churches.
A visit to the affected communities revealed that properties belonging to the victims were still trapped inside their houses as the people abandoned the properties to run for their lives and save their children from drowning in the flood.
In a bid to avert the destruction of documents and some other valuables, youths of the community were mobilized and many of them were seen scooping water from the houses while others watched helplessly as the flood continued to surge into the building.
Apart from destroying residential buildings, the floods also wreaked havoc on some buildings belonging to the new generation churches in the areas.
Pastor Wilfred Nwodo, disclosed that apart from the houses and the churches, farmlands stretching more than three kilometres were submerged by flood, adding that over 5000 persons have been displaced in the community.
The Pastor attributed the flooding to lack of drainage system in the community, the numerous mining activities going on in the place and the hilly nature of the area as the flood runs down from the hills and in the process, cause damage to the houses in the area.
Though no life was lost, Pastor Nwodo said that household appliances, livestock and farmlands were destroyed by the floods.
He urged NEMA and the State Emergency Management Agency to come to their rescue, adding that: “the flood came to us unexpected though the area is flood prone.
“The damage it caused in the community was so much. It’s one of the biggest flooding we have experienced in recent time. The flood mainly affected the people living along the ever-busy Amasiri/Okigwe express road.
“Regrettably, that’s where we have our farmlands and our livestock. The flood destroyed most of the land. The Police station in the area, many churches and business centers along the area were not spared as many of them suffered great loss.
“If we decide to quantify the damage, it would be running into millions of naira. Another victim, Elder Friday said: “The flood displaced many houses; the police station and the church opposite it has been submerged.
“People are making frantic efforts to save some of their properties. I don’t think anyone will sleep in the houses along this road to avoid further danger. A lasting solution should be found as the flood poses danger to us as a people.
“We therefore urge the state and the Federal government to come to our aid. I am a business woman who deals on food stuff and I just returned from the market and stocked my shop with bags of rice, beans and garri. But now, they are all gone.”
The flood also hit Ohaozara LGA of the state – rendering residents of seven communities there, especially Uburu homeless. Princess Chinyere Iyioku, LG council boss who doubles as ALGON chairman, however, said that no life was lost from the deluge.
“The damage caused by the flood in Ohaozara was too much. I have not witnessed such a thing before in Ohaozara. The flood damage property worth billions of naira, and displaced many families.”
Not a few people in the LGA said the flood was caused due to the dredging of Esu River.
Flood submerges 40 communities in Abia
Abia state is not exempted from the flood disaster ravaging many states in the country as over 40 communities cutting across 14 LGAs have been submerged.
The worst hit include communities around Ariaria International Market Aba as many houses and shops in the area were completely covered by flood after a recent heavy down pour which damaged goods and properties valued at hundreds of millions of Naira.
Aba metropolis including most LGAs in Abia South and Central districts are prone to flooding due to their flat topography which makes free flow of flood waters after rain fall cumbersome.
Two lives were claimed at Umunwarie community in Osisioma LGA during the last heavy rain which also devastated many buildings in the area.
The Abia State Emergency Management Agency SEMA which confirmed this said many residents of the affected communities are now taking refuge in nearby communities as well as public buildings.
Acting SEMA Executive Secretary, Mr. Sonny Jackson told our Correspondent that Abia is under serious threat by flood.
He said that the attention of NEMA had been drawn to the menace for urgent intervention.
He identified the affected LGAs as Aba North, Aba South, Osisioma Ngwa, Ugwunagbo, Obingwa, Arochukwu, Isiala Ngwa North and Isiala Ngwa South.
Others include Ikwuano, Ohafia, Bende , Ukwa East, Umuahia North, Umuahia South ,Aba South LGAs.
According to the SEMA boss, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu has already directed that the agency conduct immediate assessment of the damages and recommend measures to mitigate the plights of victims.
Abia is not only threatened by flood but also gully erosion which has devastated many communities particularly Isuikwuato LGAs where a federal highway linking the LGA with many important ancient towns in the state such as Item, Abriba, Ohafia and Arochukwu was penultimate week cut into two.
Gov. Ikpeazu had during a visit to the site said that the disaster was beyond the ability of the State Government, but promised to make the pictures available to the federal government for possible intervention.
Meanwhile, Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has visited some flood-ravaged areas of Anambra state to sympathise with the affected residents. And during the visit, he assured that the federal government will intervene by supplying victims with food and other relief materials.
And given the fact that flood has become a perennial incidence in the country, especially in the coastal areas, there is a groundswell of opinion that both the federal and state governments should come up with a blueprint on preventing and combating floods.