Saturday, 3rd June 2023

Over 200 communities displaced, six feared dead as flood ravages Rivers, Delta

By Seye Olumide (Ibadan), Ann Godwin, Obinna Nwaoku (Port Harcourt) and Monday Osayande (Asaba)
16 October 2022   |   4:10 am
Over 200 communities in four local councils of Rivers State, namely - Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni (ONELGA), Ahoada West, Ahoada East and Abual Odual - have been displaced by ravaging flood.

Eneka community in Rivers State submerged

Houses, Farmlands, and Roads Submerged
• UPU Urges Delta Govt To Set Up Camps For Flood Victims
• As Crocodiles, Snakes, and Other Dangerous Animals Overrun Communities
• Ijaw Progressives Fault NDDC, NEMA, N’Delta Ministry For Unpreparedness

Over 200 communities in four local councils of Rivers State, namely – Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni (ONELGA), Ahoada West, Ahoada East and Abual Odual – have been displaced by ravaging flood.

The affected communities include Usomini, Omoku, Obrikom, parts of Egi, and Egbema Ndoni in ONELGA. This is as findings show that Mbiama, Akinima, Akioniso and Oruama in Ahoada West have been submerged, rendering thousands homeless, and without food.

Also, six persons lost their lives while trying to cross through the flood to the road at Ihuike community in Ahaoda axis of the East-West road.

An eyewitness said a woman and her son were swept off by the flood. While the baby was later found dead, the mother has since remained missing.

It was also gathered that eight persons in a boat were also swept off by a flood, leaving four dead while others survived.

The Orashi region of the state comprising the three councils experienced the worst flooding in 2012 where several lives were lost. Also, in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020, flooding wreaked havoc in Rivers State but no concrete action was taken by the government to address it.

While many homes were still battling to recover from the damages from the past years, the state has again been hit by flooding. For instance, In ONELGA, over 20 communities have been submerged with bridges, roads, farms and schools covered by water. Several farmlands have been washed off and many artisans rendered jobless when their shops were submerged. The development has also become a threat to food security. 

One of the flood victims, Mrs. Justina Wilfred said: “We have lost everything we have, no shelter, no food, nothing. It is really disheartening.”

Some of the flood victims have appealed to Governor Nyesom Wike to ensure that the N1 billion he approved for emergency relief measures to support flood victims in the local councils be monitored to ensure it gets to victims. 

Some of them told The Guardian that in the past when such aids and relief items were provided, they hardly received them.

Governor Wike who had, during the week, approved N1 billion for flood victims, also set up a Taskforce to coordinate the distribution of relief materials to affected communities in the state, stressing that the money was to enable vulnerable families, particularly in Ahoada West, Ahoada East and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni LGAs, which are the most devasted areas in the state.

However, the former Deputy Speaker of the State Assembly, Leyii Kwanee, said it is disheartening that the Wike-led government was unable to follow sincerely and consistently pre-flooding notices and warnings from relevant agencies of the Federal Government and allowed the current avoidable calamity to befell Rivers people. 

Kwanee, who is the governorship candidate of Zenith Labour Party, said, “Rather than throw money at the problem after it has overwhelmed the people, it is naturally expected that a rational and people-oriented government will adopt measures that are capable of mitigating the anticipated loss of lives, property and legitimate means of livelihood of her citizens following the warning by the relevant agencies.

“Unfortunately, this has never been the case with a PDP administration that prioritises self-centred political activities and programmes that would enhance its chances at elections and sustain her ability to hold the state captive over and above paying attention to the immediate needs and suffering of her citizens.” 

Meanwhile, the Chairman of ONELGA, Vincent Job, has commiserated with the victims and lamented the devastating impacts of the flood crisis. He appealed to relevant authorities and organisations to come to the aid of the flood victims, saying most of them have lost their farmlands and households.

THE Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), yesterday, appealed to the Delta State government, to urgently set up Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps for flood victims.

The group also urged the government to provide relief assistance, emergency shelter materials, and other mitigating services to the displaced and vulnerable victims of flood-affected communities in Urhoboland.The union through its National Publicity Secretary, Abel Oshevire, said the ravaging floods have taken over communities of Urhobo in Ughelli North, Patani, and Ughelli South local councils.

The Director General, Delta Orientation Bureau, Mr. Eugene Uzum, yesterday, said the ravaging flood had forced crocodiles, snakes and other dangerous animals out of the River Niger to chase after victims in Patani communities.

Speaking in Asaba, Uzum said a big python was killed while attempting to swallow a victim in Patani.

He also said that about 298 persons were affected in Ewulu, including 394 men, 572 women, 574 children, 12 pregnant and 19 lactating mothers in Ogbe-Afor communities, while in Isoko, 216 men, 277 women and 298 children were affected.

He added that the East West Road was blocked, as trucks taking Federal Government’s relief materials to Patani axis were trapped, hence: “We are now using speed boat.”

A statement by the UPU reads: “Communities affected by this catastrophe include Uwheru main town, Oro-Ohoro, Ogode, Agadama, Ohoro, Owarovwo, Ophororo, Ode, Oreba, and Avon, among others in Ughelli North; Odorubu and Uduophori in Patani Local Council; and Ewu-Urhobo town, Gbaregolor Federated Communities, Okwagbe, Esaba, Ophorigbala, Ofrukama, Olodiama, Omosuomo, Otutuama, Iwhregun, Umolo and other areas in Ughelli South Local Government Area.

“These floods have destroyed ancestral homes/private residences, property, farmlands, the farm produces, valuables and livelihoods. Hundreds of people have relocated or sought refuge with friends and relatives within and outside the State. The Monarch of Uwheru Kingdom, Simpson Sapele Obruche, Odion r’Ode of Uwheru, even had to relocate from his palace to another part of town due to the rising flood water.

“However, due to the absence of IDP camps across the affected local councils, some of our people, who have no place to go, are roaming or wandering from place to place.”

Some victims now sleep in the open, and other vulnerable locations, with no security, social, medical, psychological, or infrastructural support. For example, victims from Uwheru and other flood-stricken areas are in makeshift tents and shelters along the Ughelli-Patani expressway and other roadsides in the affected local government areas.

“Our traumatised people need immediate help. We face a humanitarian and health crisis with no immediate action taken. We, therefore, appeal to the Delta State government to help mitigate their suffering by establishing adequate and equipped IDP camps in the affected councils.”

ON another hand, a group known as Watchdog for Progressive Ijaw (WPI) has criticised the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Ministry of Niger Delta for lack of preparedness to handle the ongoing flood disaster.

The group frowned at the nonchalant attitude, insensitivity and what it described as an obvious lack of capacity being displayed by the Interim Administrator of NDDC, Dr Efiong Akwa, at a time people of the region were urgently in need of the commission’s intervention.

In a statement by its spokesperson, Charles Taylor, the group lamented that despite all the warnings ahead of the flood, Akwa’s NDDC failed to prepare for it.

Taylor, a former factional President of the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, said it was time President Muhammadu Buhari removed Akwa and inaugurated a substantive board for NDDC to stop the further embarrassment of the commission by its current clueless administration.

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