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Tales of death, destruction as flood sweeps through communities

By Uzoma Nzeagwu (Awka), Charles Ogugbuaja (Owerri), Isa Abdulsalami Ahovi (Jos), Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt), Monday Osayande (Asaba), Ayoyinka Jegede (Uyo), Ibrahim Obansa (Lokoja), Gordi Udeajah (Umuahia), Julius Osahon (Yenagoa) and Ahmadu Baba Idris (Birnin Kebbi)
22 October 2022   |   4:21 am
Again, flood disaster has caught Nigerians napping. From Anambra to Bayelsa, Rivers, Kogi, Delta, Imo, Kebbi and many other states, cries for help resonate from individuals and communities who have lost their loved ones, homes, properties, farmlands and other valuables to ravaging flood.

PHOTO: DAHIRU SULEIMAN

Again, flood disaster has caught Nigerians napping. From Anambra to Bayelsa, Rivers, Kogi, Delta, Imo, Kebbi and many other states, cries for help resonate from individuals and communities who have lost their loved ones, homes, properties, farmlands and other valuables to ravaging flood.

According to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, who addressed a press conference last Sunday, over 603 lives had been lost as at that day, some 1.3 million people had been displaced, 2,407 persons injured and more than 200,000 homes destroyed.

The last time Nigeria recorded such losses and destruction from flood was in 2012. As of November 5 that year, flood had killed 363 people and displaced over 2.1 million others. An evaluation report by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) showed that 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states were affected by the flood, with the damages and losses incurred estimated at N2.6 trillion.

So far this year, 27 of the 36 states have been affected and the governors concerned have found themselves in dire straits.

Speaking on a Channels Television programme last Tuesday, Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State said the Federal Government must call for a national conversation on the current flood disaster in the country.

Soludo disclosed that eight local councils in the state had been submerged, adding that bridges, roads and houses were washed off. He called on the Presidency and the National Assembly to be proactive in seeking immediate and long-term solutions to the problem of flooding.

“Beyond the immediate coping strategy and our own long-term agenda as a government in dealing with the environment, there is a national conversation that needs to happen. We can no longer deal with perennial flooding as an emergency. We knew it would happen. We know the next one will come. A year or two from now, another massive one will come and the country must begin to prepare and ask what if it happens again, what would be our response.

“And that conversation must become national in the run-up to next year’s election. I think the National Assembly and the Presidency must give a more forceful response, especially in the next two to three weeks when the flooding recedes.

“The bridges and roads are washed away. There are communities, villages and local governments that are completely cut off. Roads leading to those places have been completely swept off by the flood,” Soludo said.

The situation in Bayelsa State was no less pitiful. In a statewide radio and television broadcast, also last Tuesday, Governor Douye Diri cried out that the flood in the state was overwhelming and beyond what the government alone could handle.

Diri said: “From my personal assessment, the situation is dire. Nearly a million people in over 300 communities in the state have been internally displaced. Unfortunately, some deaths have been reported.
“The narrative is the same across Sagbama, Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw, Ogbia, Yenagoa, Nembe and Kolokuma Opokuma local councils. Businesses have been shut, properties lost and farm lands destroyed.

“Critical infrastructure like hospitals, roads, bridges and schools, including the state-owned Niger Delta University, Amassoma, the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, and the University of Africa, Toru-Orua, were severely affected.

“Without exaggeration, the sheer scale of the devastation is not such that the state can handle on its own. We urgently solicit the support of multinationals, international donor agencies, the Red Cross, diplomatic missions and people of goodwill to come to the aid of our state.

“I appeal to Mr. President to consider special grants to the state from the Stabilisation Funds, Ecological Funds and Natural Resources Fund.”

Other state governments, communities and individuals contending with the challenge also narrated their ordeals to The Guardian. The following reports capture their stories.

Flood Has Taken Away All We Have Laboured For In Life, Delta Victims Lament
RESIDENTS of Delta State have been reeling from the shock of the ravaging flood, which claimed 12 lives, displaced hundreds of people and destroyed farmlands.

The Guardian gathered that various flood-prone areas in the state shared from the deaths and destruction with Ndokwa East Local Council recording the highest number as at penultimate Wednesday with six casualties. Isoko North and South local councils also recorded four deaths each.

In Akarai and Otuoku communities, both in Ndokwa East Council, the bodies of a middle-aged woman and a boy who died from the flood were yet to be recovered as at last Saturday.

Other communities heavily impacted by the flood include Oko/Hausa market and the back of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Otuogwu, in Asaba. Food items such as onions, tomatoes, pepper as well as hundreds of goats, cows and chicken worth millions of naira were seen floating on the floodwater.

The flood also affected construction workers at the site of the Second Niger Bridge project at the Oko axis where two persons reportedly lost their lives in an attempt to horribly abandon the site to avoid being swept away.

Camp 75 Asaba, Ikpide-Irri riverine community, Uzere, Ivrogbo-Irri, Araya, Aviara, Emede, Umeh, all in Isoko South council were submerged. It was the same situation in Iyede-Ame, Lagos-Iyede, Onogbokor, Ashaka, Ibrede and Abbi in Ndokwa East Council.

At Abala Unor and Abala Obodo in the local council, the palace of the traditional ruler, Igwe Fredrick Chukwulobe Egbunokonye III, was submerged, forcing him to relocate to Asaba.

The Chairman of Ndokwa East Council, Juan Amacheee Governor, in a statement signed by a councillor, Barth Ozah, lamented the situation, saying: “This year’s flood has taken a new dimension far beyond what we experienced in 2012. Although we experience annual flooding in this local council and, therefore, have proactive programmes that ordinarily would work effectively in pre, during and post-flood time, this 2022 flood has surpassed what the local council can manage as it has beaten all our predictions, strategies and plans.”

A victim in Ivrogbo-Irri riverine community, Isoko South Council, Jane Ajirioghene, while lamenting the disaster called on both federal and Delta State governments to rescue them.

“This 2022 flood is getting more serious than the one of 2012,” she said.

Another victim at Otuogwu quarters in Asaba, Mr. Chihamdi Nwokobia, said: “The water has taken away all we have laboured for in life while our businesses have been put on hold. We are stranded.”

Nwokobia also called on government at all levels to come to their aid “because at the moment nothing is left with us.”

Speaking with The Guardian, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Patrick Ukah, expressed the government’s readiness to tackle flood challenges in the state.

Ukah, who is the chairman of the 2022 Flood Management Committee of the state, said government was doing everything possible to mitigate the suffering of the affected people. According to him, camps have been set up to accommodate displaced residents temporary until the water recedes.

Three Die In Uyo
TWO persons were found dead along Atiku Abubakar Way in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State after a downpour that lasted for several hours penultimate Sunday night.

The two bodies were recovered from a gutter near GWT petrol station the following day.

An eyewitness, who identified herself as Uduak, said the road was always flooded during rainy season. According to him, motorists by pass the flood by diverting to adjoining streets such as Esuene and Ebetaya through which they connect to Abak road and the state secretariat.

“The male and female corpses were recovered this morning in a gutter and the police were immediately informed to evacuate them,” the eyewitness said

Also recently, flood swept away a 60-year-old petty trader on Nkemba Street, Uyo. The flood also destroyed a church building and the properties therein.

A resident of the area, Anietie Sam, who narrated the incident to newsmen, said the flood swept the woman away while she was returning from the market around 4:30pm.

He added that efforts to rescue her were abortive as the flood swept the woman into an underground drainage channel.

“Actually we made efforts to rescue the woman but it was difficult because she was swept away uncontrollably by the flood to an open hole linking the underground drainage facility,” he said.

REUTERS/Mahamat Ramadane

Victims Groan Over Loss Of Properties In Imo
IN August, the Nigeria Metrological Agency (NIMET) predicted that Imo State would be one of the 32 states that would witness flooding this year.

So far, in Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta local councils of the state, Eziorsu, Egbuoma, Egbema and Oguta Lake areas have been affected, with their ancestral houses, property, farmlands and other belongings submerged.

Also, in Owerri metropolis, residents of Works Lay Out, Ikenegbu Lay Out and Chukwuma Nwoha by MCC Road had their properties destroyed by flood after a heavy rain recently.

The development prompted the state government to direct all residents to clear drainage channels in front of their homes with immediate effect to allow floodwater flow through the Balloon Technology areas into the rivers.

However, the victims have cried out for help from the federal and state governments, oil companies operating in the area and philanthropists.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Operations Officer in the state, Nnaji Ifeanyi, lamented recently that victims of the flood disaster were homeless, saying they refused to relocate to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Ohaji /Egbema and Oguta local councils. He expressed regret that the situation was worsened by the vandalism of the IDP facilities in the area, which made them inhabitable.

One of the victims, who identified himself as John, told The Guardian that even though the destruction caused by the flood was much, he chose to remain in his community with his relatives than relocating to an IDP camp.

“We chose to live with our relatives than to go to the IDP camp. Our culture and tradition abhor such,” he said.

The Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Imo State Governor, Oguwike Nwachuku, told journalists that the state governor had ordered a comprehensive evaluation of the losses incurred by the victims to enable the government decide on how to assist them.

Four Die, 600 Houses Submerged In Plateau
IN Plateau State, flood has submerged about 13 communities in Langtang South Local Council and displaced many residents.

About 220 houses and a lot of farmlands in the same local council were submerged last month. Bridges linking some communities were also washed away by floodwater.

A resident of Mabudi community in the local council, Emmanuel Nanpal, said the flood also destroyed properties worth millions of naira.

In Langtang North, about 400 houses were submerged by flood in the Pilgani District of the council where Zamadede, Shilur, Pishe, Angwani, Galang and other communities were affected.

In Nyelleng and Gwabi communities in Pankshin Local Council of the state, at least four people, including a couple were killed by flood. The flood also submerged the only bridge linking the area with the outside world.

Chairman of Pankshin Local Council, Audu Kak’mena, who visited the communities, expressed sadness over the incident. He condoled with the victims’ families and the communities, promising them that the government would evaluate the level of damage caused by the flood with a view to developing an intervention template.

Roads, Houses, Farmlands Submerged In Kogi Councils
No fewer than nine local councils of Kogi State have been affected by this year’s flooding. They include Lokoja, Kogi-Koto, Ajaokuta, Ofu, Igalamela-Odolu, Bassa, Idah, Ibaji and Omala.

As a result of the magnitude of the flood, Governor Yahaya Bello called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare an emergency and assist the victims whose livelihoods have been badly affected.

Just like in 2012 when Lokoja and the adjoining local councils were submerged by flood, several communities and farmlands were covered by water following the overflow of Rivers Niger and Benue.

Narrating their experiences, some victims lamented that flood had taken over their property and farm lands.

A victim, Sule Muhammed, who cried out that he had no place to move to, said: “I’m stranded here as I speak with you. There is nowhere to move to. We are appealing to government to come to our aid.”

During a visit to some parts of Lokoja, the state capital, people were seen moving their properties from submerged houses to safer places. It was also discovered that some major roads like the Old Market road and Ganaja-Ajaokuta and Lokoja-Abuja road were submerged.

The roads link the north, east and southern parts of the country. Many passengers were stranded on the road for several days while some took canoe to cross over to the unaffected side to board another vehicles to continue their journey.

At Adankolo Estate and Adankolo Extension, many landlords deserted their houses and moved to safer places.

Residents of the area said that the flood washed away all they had laboured for. “We watched as the flood submerged our houses,” Talatu Gimba said.

At the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp at St. Luke Primary School, Adankolo in Lokoja, the chairman called for emergency food supply and medical attention to the victims, especially children.

The Chief of Adankolo community, HRH David Aibe Aghaiyi II, appealed to the government to provide permanent residence for people affected by the flood.

According to him, once the people are relocated, their present abode should be demolished, so as to prevent them from coming back to the same community when the flood recedes.

Meanwhile, the Kogi State government has relocated people living in flood prone areas to areas considered safe for them. The governor also made a passionate appeal to President Buhari to declare a state of national disaster as a result of the ravaging flood in the state and others.

11 Residents Killed, 651, 053 Others Displaced In Anambra
THE flood also wreaked havoc in several communities in Anambra State, leaving about 11 dead, many villages submerged and houses, schools, healthcare centres, police stations and churches destroyed.

Many communities in Ogbaru, Anyanelum, Awka North, Anambra East and West were submerged while residents fled their homes to escape disaster.

To mitigate the sufferings of the victims, the state government has set up IDP camps at Central Primary School, Ifite-Ogwari and Otaku Primary School, Omor both in Anyanelum Local Council; Crowther Memorial Primary School, Onitsha and Unity Hall, Umueri, among others.

Recently, the bridge linking seven communities and several camps in Ogbaru Local Council collapsed, cutting off several communities and thousands of people already marooned by flooding from their kith and kin.

Mr. Udenkwo Amaobe, who lives in the area, said the bridge caved in on October 12 this year.

“In fact, we have long been cut off without anyone making any appreciable effort to assuage our pains. This is the only road that connects all communities in Ogbaru, but surprisingly it cut into two somewhere around Ofia Umuoga, between Ogbakuba and Umunankwo, about two weeks ago.

“Government officials visited Ogbaru two weeks ago and only stopped at Odekpe, very far from the site of the collapse,” he lamented.

The Southeast Coordinator, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Thichman Tanimu, also confirmed the death of one Ginikanwa Izuoba in the Enugu-Otu, Aguleri following the collapse of his house due to the ravaging flood.

He revealed that at least 651,053 persons in six local councils have been displaced, with Ogbaru having 286,000 victims, Anambra West 237,000, Anambra East 103,000 and Anyanelum 9, 240.

Tanimu called for urgent supply of clothing, diapers, beddings, sanitary items, food items and other relief materials to assist the flood victims, as the state would not be able to handle it alone.

Abia Records 13 Deaths
THIRTEEN people, comprising 10 children and three adults, have been lost to flooding in Aba South and Osisioma Ngwa local councils of Abia State in the last one month.

Farmlands and houses were also submerged, with goods and properties worth millions of naira destroyed.

A bridge at Akanu Item in Bende Local Council collapsed as a result of the flood, cutting off the community from others. At Nkporo in Ohafia Local Council, three communities and houses were submerged following the overflow of the Ironyi River.

A recent heavy flooding that occurred at Ariaria International Market, Aba, also destroyed valuable properties and goods but no life was lost.

The Executive Secretary of Abia State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr. Sunday Jackson, who made the disclosures, told The Guardian that Imo and Erie rivers became overflow with water, resulting in flood up-surging to Ude Ofeme, Umudiawa in Umuahia North and Amachara axis in Umuahia South local councils.

Jackson said officials of SEMA and NEMA jointly engaged in rapid assessment of the areas to ascertain the levels of damage for possible interventions by the Federal Government.

Thousands Of Rivers Residents Rendered Homeless
NO fever than 40 communities in three local councils of Rivers State – Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Ahoada West and Ahoada East – have been submerged by ravaging flood.

Some of the affected communities are Usomini, Omoku, Obrikom, parts of Egi, Egbema and Ndoni in ONELGA.

It was learnt that Mbiama, Akinima, Akioniso and Oruama in Ahoada West were also submerged, rendering thousands of the residents homeless.

Some of the victims, who are currently homeless and jobless, have appealed to Governor Nyesom Wike to ensure that the N1 billion he approved for the provision of emergency relief materials is not mismanaged. They alleged that in the past, relief items meant for victims were diverted.

One of them, Chief Emeka Wilfred, told The Guardian: “We were still battling to recover from the damages and losses caused by flood in the past and here we are with the worst.  We are grateful for the donations but we request most importantly that the aids and relief items should be monitored to ensure they get to us because past experience shows that these items are diverted.”

Bayelsa Counts Losses, Seeks Partnership On Permanent Solution 
WITH 10 reported deaths and loss of homes and properties, many communities have been deserted in Bayelsa State following the rampaging flood. Yenagoa, the state capital was also affected.

The flood swept away a 16-year-old boy identified as Temedi Agbede Yerimene at Igbogene community in Yenagoa Local Council. The body was recovered two days after from a deep canal close to the entrance of the state capital.

It was gathered that the deceased, who was in the company of his age mates, was swimming in the rising water close to the State Ecumenical Centre but was overpowered by the tide.

Also, the flood submerged Ayakoro settlement in Ogbia Local Council and killed three people. In Mbiama, a middle- aged woman lost her life to the flood when it submerged her home. Unconfirmed reports say there were many unreported deaths and missing persons.

The Guardian further learnt that because more communities have been submerged, the number of people at the IDP camps created by the state government keeps rising by the day. Governor Douye Diri said his government felt the pains and sufferings of the residents, necessitating the setting up of the Task Force on Flooding that has already visited more than 100 affected communities.

Over 200 Villages Affected In Kebbi
THE Executive Secretary, Kebbi State Emergency Management Agency, Alhaji Abbas Rabiu Kamba, has said that no fewer than 200 villages were affected by recent flood in the state.

Kamba, who revealed that over 1000 households were affected in 12 local councils, assured residents that the government was working hard to assist the victims with relief materials.

According to him, the government has intensified efforts to relocate some heavily impacted villages.

To alleviate the sufferings of the victims, the Hydroelectric Power Producing Development Area Commission (HYPPADEC) recently donated relief materials to the state.

During the distribution of the materials at Shanga Local Council, the Managing Director of HYPPADEC, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Yauri, said four councils would benefit from the gesture.

“We are giving them food items, building materials and cash,” he added.