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When flooding overran major cities across Nigeria

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Since 2012, flood has remained a recurring menace in Nigeria. Lives have been lost; people have been displaced from their homes and their properties destroyed; farms have been submerged leaving farmers wailing due to the destruction of their crops. The losses are quite enormous.

Available records show that the 2012 flood, which began in early July, killed 363 people. It also displaced over 2.1 million people across the 30 of the 36 states of the federation where the flood occurred. The calamity earned the tag of being the worst in 40 years and affected an estimated seven million people with the damages and losses put at N2.6 trillion.

Seven years after, the country has no solutions yet. This year, many states have been affected, again resulting in deaths and destructions. Unfortunately for the victims, the National Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA) had warned as early as April when it released its Annual Flood Outlook that some states in the country would experience flooding. Also in August, the agency gave an update, where it stated that 15 states and the FCT had already experienced one form of flooding or the other with about 100 deaths recorded. These forewarnings did not however instigate strong preemptive steps by the local, state and federal government that could have checkmated the menace or substantially mitigate its effects.

In Lagos State, for instance, last weekend’s downpour (Friday and Saturday) literarily ravaged the state. Residents of highbrow areas such as Lekki, Victoria Garden City (VGC), Ajah and even Ikeja experienced flash floods that wreaked havoc in many homes.The floods swept away an 11-year-old boy and his rescuer, simply identified as Wasiu at Aboru and Iyana-Ipaja in Alimosho area of the state. The duo was swept away at a canal linking Aboru and Iyana-Ipaja on Ige Road. The flood also worsened the bad conditions of the state’s road infrastructure. When the flood receded, potholes had turned to craters and craters to gullies, forcing the state Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to declare a state of emergency on roads in the state.

In Agodo-Egbe area of Ikotun Lagos, even though no life was lost, the aftermath of the flood left many residents with tales of woe. Mrs. Orji Chukwuemeka, a resident on Adelakun Street, Agodo Egbe blamed the incident on the abandonment of the canal in the axis.She said: “Saturday’s downpour was almost fatal for a lot of people living on this extreme side of the street as our homes were so flooded. Some of us had to struggle to get out of the house at the risk of being drowned. Our properties floated in the water and all that was important was to run for safety.

“People on this side of Agodo have been experiencing flooding for decades as there is no drainage anywhere in Agodo Egbe. We have cried out to the government to come to our aid times with no avail, and surprisingly, sometimes early last year, some people started clearing the axis for the construction of the canal but before we knew what was happening, they stopped clearing and abandoned the project, making the flooding even worse than it used to be, because the places they cleared and abandoned have now caused more obstruction to flow of water.”

Another resident on Amudalat Street, Kazeem Adekunle, also lamented his losses. “What made last Saturday rainfall worse for people here is because it had rained heavily on Friday too, the ground was all soaked and when the Saturday rain hit the already weary and fragile ground, the result was a disaster. I saw water gushing out from the ground in my living room; it was a good thing I was home with the kids, if not, I wonder how they would have handled the disaster. You could see pain on the faces of people as everyone tried to manage the situation to no avail. As at Sunday afternoon, people were still taking out water from their apartment. Last year, the government said they wanted to construct a canal but for some reasons best known to them, they stopped the project even before it started. So, we implore the state government to please resurrect the construction of drainages and canal in Agodo Egbe, so, we can breath again,” he enthused.

Over 50,000 Persons Displaced In Rivers
In River State, the report has it that over 50,000 persons have been displaced by flood while 30 communities submerged. Undoubtedly, since the massive flood of 2012, the state has continued to suffer persistent flooding. The mostly affected areas in the state include Abual/Odual, Ahoada East, Ahoada West, some parts of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni like Akabuka, Obagi, Ogbogu. Other are Rumuekini, Rumuigbo, Rumukpoku, Rumuodomanya, Rumuakalugo in Obio/Akpor Local Council, Igwurita and Eneka, among others

In the case of Rivers, the NHSA had predicted that 30 communities in the state would be flooded, adding that their houses and farmlands would be submerged.  The predictions have obviously come true. Findings showed that this year’s flood has even surpassed the 2012 flood in the state, with several deaths recorded, some victims hospitalised while other have no shelter. Some of the flood victims are currently living under trees while some have relocated to secondary schools and churches.

In Abua/Odual, all the residents in the area have been sacked by flood. It was gathered that the only bridge that leads to the community has also collapsed due to heavy impact of the flood. At present, no one goes into the community or comes out except by the use of canoe (local boat). The farm crops are not left out, as there are reports of massive destructions of farmlands.

A former councilor in Abual/Odual, Toghoni Okwa told The Guardian that the flood in the area has become a yearly menace.Also in Rumuekini in Obio/Akpor local council of the state, particularly in an area called Rumuodo, flood has displaced over 5,000 persons with over 2,000 houses submerged. There were also reports of snake bites, which has led to sudden deaths of some flood victims.Some residents of the area spoke with The Guardian. One of them, Gabriel Benedict, said: “I live in School Road Rumuekini; the flood has chased us away from our homes. We have no place to stay; some persons have fallen sick and some dead, yet no body cares. We are calling on government to come to our aid; the flood keep re-occurring.”

Another resident, added: “Obviously we have been having this type of challenge since 2017 and we have been crying to government and yet no help has come our way. We swim in water every day; it is the construction at Obiri Ikwere flyover to airport road that has worsened the situation. Children can no longer go to school because flood has taken over the whole streets and schools. The flood in Rumuekini is beyond what individuals can do. We are really suffering; we need urgent attention.”

The chairman of Rumuodo Community in Rumuekini, Mr. Nnamdi Owhor, appealed to the state government and relevant authorities to construct canals from the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital to the Choba River or from Obirikwere to Rumokpuku canal to give access for the flood to flow out.Similarly, most parts of Akabuka community in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local council of the state have been submerged with over 10,000 persons displaced. Sadly, there was no plan for the flood victims. A visit to the area showed some displaced persons packing and relocating to unknown destinations while some were directed by the Community Development Committee (CDC) chairman, Mr. Ikechukwu Sam, and his vice, Isaac Owhor to move into Government Secondary School, Akabuka, pending the intervention of the government authorities and oil companies operating in the area.

Akabuka said: “It is sad to see that with this huge impact of flood in our community with no single person living in the area again, there is no iota of help from anyone, neither government nor oil companies operating in this area.“There are wild animals like snake, crocodile and lots more in this flood water. We are exposed to risks; we are therefore appealing to the federal, state and local governments, the oil companies and public-spirited individuals to come to our aid. We are dying.”

However, the South South Zonal Coordinator of NEMA, Mr. Walson Ibarakumo, told journalists that the agency had visited some of the affected communities and begun dredging of canals, gutters and waterways to reduce the impact of the flood.Meanwhile, the Chairman of Port Harcourt local council area, Victor Ihunwo, has said the Ministry of Urban Development was partly responsible for the flooding challenges in the state. Ihunwo said, the Ministry was giving building approvals to people to erect buildings on water channels, which has resulted to massive flooding.  

In Anambra, Farmers, Residents Call For Aid
Six local councils in Anambra State comprising Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum, parts of Awka North, Ekwusigo and Idemili South have been worst hit in this year’s flood menace. In the affected local councils, the extent of destruction of farmlands, schools, churches, public and private buildings is heart-rending.

A victim, Udoji Akpoeby, popularly called Ezemili from Umunwelum, Anam in Anambra East local council lamented that the flood sacked him from his house, forcing him to go and take refuge with relatives. At Umuzu, Okija in Ihiala local council, some victims including Charles Ebili, Alloy Okwuosa, Leo Anekwe and Ignatis Udji lamented that their homes, property and farm produce including yams and cassava were destroyed.

Also, Chris Okwuosa, who is the Chairman of Children of the Farmers’ Club (CFC), told The Guardian that the 16 communities in Atani were flooded, adding that St. Mary’s Primary and Secondary Schools in Umuzu and the Health Centre in the community were also submerged.Okwuosa recalled that the flood of last year devastated the CFC’s fish cage at Ochuche Umuodu Owalieke Creek at the bank of River Niger.

“By the time we traced the fish cage to River State, the fish were gone. To bring back the cage was another problem, but we were able to engage the Nigerian Army Engineering Rescue Team from Onitsha to help us recover the fish cage.”According to him, during the 2018 flood, there was no IDP camp in Umuzu, forcing CFC to set up one. He added that the club has also established one this year.

He urged government to come to the aid of flood victims, saying: “We have done the research on what needs to be done. Take for instance, Ogbaru local council; because of its terrain, the first rain of the year starts submerging Okpoko, Ossomala as well as Umuzu–Okija communities. If government wants to do something for the flood victims, they should come by November, when the rainfall might have stopped.”He added that to remedy the situation, government should clear the canal in the area.

Corroborating him, a former Commissioner for Women Affairs in the state, Chief (Mrs) Bridget Obi, said bureaucracy and apathy were responsible for the persistent flooding. Obi, who is the Executive Director of CFC and President of Emergency Management and Disaster Response Network, told The Guardian that the response initiative of governments at all level was zero.

“We have not seen any government presence this year. Take for instance, Umuzu community in Ogbaru local council, people were trapped and did not go out. Government officials did not respond timely, and when they did, the relief materials were not of any use to the flood victims,” she said. As a way out, Obi called on government to provide relief materials to flood victims at the right time when they need it. “If they can’t do it timely, let them stop it. It is a waste,” she added.

In Anambra West local council, all the 10 autonomous communities were completely submerged. A community leader from Umuee Anam, Raphael Obieche, said all schools in the area had been closed while farmers had been counting their losses as the flood submerged farmlands.“Presently, there is no functional secondary school, primary school, church or health centre in the entire Anambra West because everything is under water. The consequence of the flood is unpalatable. The other problem is that some of the farmers borrowed money to buy farm crops and inputs like fertilizer and insecticides. As a result of the flood, they are now indebted to their individual lenders, thrift societies or banks. I lost electronic appliances, foams and farm produce because I was not around when the flood entered my house,” he said.He appealed to the government to come to the aid of farmers in the area so that they will not be left out of the next farming season.

I Thank God I’m Alive, Says Flood Victim
Also in Cross River State, many residents are seeking for assistance from both government and good spirited individuals as the heavy downpours in September and early October resulted in flood that destroyed houses, farms and communities.The most recent case happened last month in Nyangasang community Calabar in Municipal local council where flood carried five houses and buried them in a gully that had been threatening residents of the area. However, the most affected local councils in the state are Calabar Municipality, Calabar South, Biase and Boki.

Some residents of Ikot Eka Edem in Calabar municipal local council blamed the flood on landlords that erected buildings on drainage channels and thereby hindering free flow of floodwater. One of the victims of flood at Ibom Close in Calabar Municipality, Mr. Patrick Asikpo-Okon, lamented that he lost his credentials, clothes and other valuables to the flood.

He said: “The heavy rains caused havoc in the whole of this street. I lost my valuables because I was trying to save my little children not to be taken away by the flood. I thank God that we are alive today. I had to move my family because my house is not comfortable for now.“For years now, we have been crying to government at all levels to come to our aid and open the channels for free flow of water, but no response until now.

In Boki local council, Mr. Benjamin Abang said the flood destroyed his cocoa plantation, adding that his means of livelihood was under threat.He called on the state and federal governments to assist him financially with a view to getting more cocoa nursery for planting in a safer ground.Speaking with The Guardian on possible measures to end flooding in the state and efforts that had been made to safeguard lives and property, the Acting Director General of Cross River State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr. Princewill Ayim, disclosed that over 510 persons had been displaced by flood across the state.

Ayim said the agency has taken records of areas affected in Calabar South, Calabar Municipality, Boki, Biase, Odukpani and Etung.He claimed that the state only suffered from flash flood, explaining that most of the houses affected were erected along the waterwaysHe noted that the agency had carried out an aggressive campaign before the beginning of the rainy season to sensitise residents living along water channels across the state to move to higher grounds.Speaking on the five houses that were swept by gully, he said: “Government has intervened and tried to control it from the other angle. This gully has been in existence for years; the control is almost completed.”

Mgbolo-Okuku, Other Imo Communities In Pains
In Imo State, the people of Mgbolo-Okuku community in Owerri West local council have been in pains over heavy floods threatening the existence of the community. Every part of the community is flooded and they find it difficult to access their homes and nearby communities. As a result, they have recorded both human and material losses to the disaster.

Aside Mgbolo-Okuku community, Ohaji/Egbema, Oguta and Orsu communities have also suffered flood problems this year. The coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Imo and Abia states, Evans Ugo, however said the agency had urged the affected communities to relocate to a camp established for them before the flood submerged their homes, but they preferred to stay with their relatives in other unaffected communities pending when the flood would recede.

Abia Locates 791 Erosion Sites Due To Flood
Abia State has identified over 791 cases of erosion sites with varying degrees of devastations as a result of heavy flooding. The Project Coordinator of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), Izuchukwu Onwuhara, an engineer, disclosed this to The Guardian in an interview last Wednesday.

He attributed the high incidence of flood in the state to its location in the rainforest zone and climate change. “This is also due to our small land mass and high population density; and with various human activities, erosion is very high, ” he said.Also, the Executive Secretary of the State Environmental Management Agency (SEMA), Mr Sonny Jackson, stated that flood from recent rains devastated over 40 communities in 14 local councils of the State. He listed the affected local councils as Aba North and South, Osisioma Ngwa, Ugwunagbo, Obingwa, Arochukwu, Isiala Ngwa North and South, Ikwuano, Ohafia, Bende, Ukwa East, Umuahia North and South, and Aba South, which he described as the worst affected area.

According to Jackson, two persons died in Umunwarie community in Osisioma Ngwa flood incident while many residents in the affected local councils took refuge in public buildings and people’s houses in unaffected communities.He added that the traditional rulers of two other communities, Umuechem and Umuwarie, which were also flooded, have sent an SOS to the state government and international humanitarian agencies to assist them to address the menace.

Also recently, many communities in Isuikwuato local council located between Okigwe (Imo state) and Akara (in Abia State) were cut off by erosion even as many of their houses remained threatened by gully.Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has visited the area. While sympathising with the affected communities, he lamented that the state government couldn’t afford the cost of addressing the disaster alone. He therefore bemoaned the non-release of Ecological Fund to his state, saying the state had not got the fund from the Federal Government since 2015. He, however, pledged to do some palliative works within the capacity of the state government in the affected communities.

Ondo: Flood Ravages Non-Coastal Communities
Flood used to be a yearly problem of the coastal areas of Ondo State with its attendant tragedies. However, it now wreaks havoc in other parts of the state as exemplified in the death of a final year student of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), Doyinsola Motunrayo Boluwaji, who was swept away by floodwater recently.

Boluwaji, an indigene of Ekiti State, was swept off by the wild current of flooding caused by the torrential rain that lasted for over eight hours penultimate Monday. Her body is yet to be recovered. Her demise came seven days after the recurrent sea surge in Ayetoro Community in Ilaje local council area of the state, South Senatorial District, destroyed Community Primary School, Ayetoro, and washed away all documents in the school save the certificates of the pupils. 

Likewise, a commercial motorcycle rider, Mr. Idowu Akomolafe, was killed on Friday, September 27, by a raging flood in Akure, the headquarters of Akure South Council, Central District, while coming home from work. Other parts of the district, Idanre and Ogbese, also experienced huge destruction of properties and displacement of families. Thus, the three senatorial districts of the state have had terrible experiences as a result of flooding this year.

A source and close friend to the victim of Akungba flood, Miss Adekemi Odunwo, lamented that her friend was swept away by the flood and all attempts to locate her proved abortive.Odunwo explained that the students and other occupants of the buildings in the area, escaped through the roof of their houses when the flood started to rage violently. 

“Initially, we were trying to remove all our belongings when the flood trickled into our rooms, while some were bailing the water out. But suddenly, the flood rushed in massively and some were submerged to knee level. Everybody started scampering for dear life.”She added that one of the options left was to seek shield on the rooftop of the house, but Boluwaji slipped off the hands of her friend who wanted to save her by pulling her up and was seen being swept away by the flood.

One of the survivors and landlord of the missing undergraduate, Mr. Ademola Elemukona, recounted his harrowing experience and pains from the heavy flood that sacked their homes.Elemukona disclosed that flood from the nearby canal had been disturbing people whose houses are situated nearby, adding that all efforts made to avert foreseeable destruction of his house were to no avail.

Unlike the South District and coastal areas of the state, it has been reliably gathered that indiscriminate dumping of refuse that eventually block drainages and waterways majorly causes flooding in the central and north districts.Residents of the riverine communities in the South District like Igbokoda, Awoye, Etikan, Obenla, Ibila, Erunna, Idi-Ogba, Ugbonla, Mahin, Ipaare, Zion-Pepe in Ilaje LGA; Ajapa, Kurukurugbini, Igbobini, Ukparama, Arogbo, Agadagba, Ojuala and Inikorogha in Ese-Odo council, live with fear of flooding. 

Also in Ogbese town in Akure North local council and Idanre in Idanre council, both in the Central District, flood continually ravaged the upland communities as a result of excessive blockage of waterways. In Idanre, some of the major towns that were affected were Opa, Oke Mapo, Yaba and Alade. Over 60 houses and electricity infrastructures worth millions of naira were destroyed. Many displaced residents of the areas still seek refuge in churches, mosques, schools, and with friends and relatives.

One of the victims, who simply identified herself as Helen, recounted: “I was not at home when the incident happened but my children who were at home called my attention to the unfortunate incident. We lost most of our valuables to the flood and as a matter of fact we don’t have where to sleep.“It has not been easy coping with the situation. There is nobody to accommodate us. We live inside the church and the church members provide foods and other materials we need. Some members of the church gave us the clothes we are wearing. The government should please assist us to return home as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, has pledged to implement some measures that would curtail the incidence of flood in the state. In a statement recently by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ojo Oyewamide, he constituted a six-man committee to look into the issue. 

“The Teams are to ascertain the impact of the floods, number of communities affected, public property affected, the extent of damage to communities and suggest measures that could assist the state in her pursuit for succour from the Federal Government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA),” the statement noted.

Yauri Local Council Seeks FG’s Intervention
The people of Yauri local council area of Kebbi State have called on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, come to their aid following the flood in the area that displaced some of them. The flood submerged 935 houses and farmlands of the people living in riverine areas.Addressing newsmen last Thursday, the sole administrator of Yauri local council, Alhassan Adamu Birnin Yauri, said that the call had become necessary due to the suffering of the affected people.He explained further that those affected had been evacuated from the place but they needed urgent financial support to enable them resettle in their various new settlements.

“About 1,420 hectares of land were destroyed. So, they need serious and urgent financial support, no lives were lost but properties and farms lands worth millions of naira were affected,” he added.The affected communities area are Todi Gada, gombi, Zamari, Anguwa Sarki and Gungu Sarki.


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