BY Samuel Oyadongha
…moves to avert famine, sets up 3 food storage sites
Perhaps if Governor Seriake Dickson had not given out three emergency hot lines Wednesday to Bayelans battling against the ravaging deluge, Mrs. Rhoda Tamunu, aged 120 would have been trapped in her dilapidated apartment at the Agudama-Epie suburb of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital where residents are fleeing their homes in droves from the rampaging flood.
No fewer than five hundred buildings have been submerged at the Agudama-Epie suburb alone not to talk of the several hundreds of communities now under water in the state described as the worst hit in the South South by the devastating flood.
Also, several thousands of Bayelsans from various communities have been evacuated to the relief camps located at the state capital while others especially non indigenes have continued to flee the state to neighbouring Port Harcourt and the eastern part of the country.
Saturday Vanguard gathered that with everybody battling against time to see what they could salvaged of their belongings, there was nothing the aged woman who is confined to her bed could do as she was not even aware of the looming danger. The aged woman’s children and grandchildren, it was learnt were not around to evacuate her from her residence which was gradually being swallowed by the surging flood.
Providence however smiled on her when an unnamed source called one of the emergency lines released by Governor Seriake Dickson during his state-wide broadcast Wednesday morning to Bayelsans on the raging flood and measures being put in place by government to ameliorate their sufferings.
On getting the distress call about the trapped bed ridden old woman, members of the State Emergency Medical Services raced to scene but were confronted with a tricky situation. Accessing the old woman’s apartment was a herculean task due to the volume of the water and haphazard nature of the layout.
With the ambulance vehicle parked some safe distance away from the submerged area, the medical team led by Mrs. Cynthia Boufini armed with a stretcher waded through the flood to reach the old woman and rescue her. The survivor, according to a member of the rescue team was rescued at the point of death, adding that her residence at Agudama-Epie in Yenagoa local government area of the state was submerged with property worth millions of naira lost to the flood.
The flood victim has since been taken to the Government House clinic for medical attention. The leader of the rescue team, Mrs Cynthia Boufini said the agency swiftly responded to a distress call put through one of the hotlines made available by the state government.
Expressing gratitude to the state government over its efforts to ameliorate the suffering of the people, the grandson of the rescued woman, Mr. Francis Monovie, said if not for the hotlines made available by the government, his grandmother would have been washed away by the flood.
Meantime, the state is on the verge of being cut off from the rest of the country by the surging flood. Saturday Vanguard investigation revealed that virtually all the communities in the state in the fresh water zone except for Brass and Nembe council areas located on the Atlantic fringe have been submerged by flood.
The Umeh-Patani stretch of the East-West road has been cut off by flood from the rampaging Forcados river and rising water from the adjoining creeks while the Mbiama-Okogbe section of the federal highway in Rivers State straddling the oil rich states of the Niger Delta is gradually being taken over by flood from the over flowing Orashi River and may be cut off in the next couple of days unless the water stop rising.
Bayelsa depends on neighbouring Delta State for its supply of food stuff and Rivers State for petrol from the Department of Petroleum Resources.
It was observed that with the state of the East-West road cut off in Delta State the cost of food items have shot up with long queues returning to filling stations in Yenagoa the state capital as residents embarked on panic buying following fears that the Rivers end of the road around Mbaiama may be cut cut off in the next few days given the rising volume of flood.
Our correspondent also observed that the new gateway road connecting Gbarain kingdom to mainland Yenagoa has been cut off by flood which is advancing towards the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri, a development that caused the management of the hospital to call on relations of patients at the centre to evacuate them.
Also, the Tombia-Edepie road linking Amassoma, host to the Niger Delta University has been cut off by flood leaving the university campus submerged.
A former Commissioner for Energy in Bayelsa State, Maxwell Oko while reacting to the flood situation across the country described Bayelsa State which is located in the heart of the Niger Delta as the worst hit and called on NEMA and other relevant agencies to come to the aid of the displaced victims.
…govt moves to avert famine, sets up 3 food storage sites
Bayelsa State govern ment says it would establish three food storage sites in Yenagoa the state capital to avert the looming food crisis in the state in the wake of the devastating flood being experienced in the state.
Governor Seriake Dickson stated this Wednesday in a state-wide broadcast on the flood situation in the state. He said the strategic storage sites will be under the control of the state Ministry of Agriculture.
Lamenting the devastating consequences of the flood on the state he said, “reports at my disposal indicate a growing scarcity of food and other essential commodities arising from the flooding on the East-West road, which is a major gateway into the state.
“This coupled with the destruction of farms has created acute food shortage at the moment. Consequently, food prices have now soared beyond the reach of the ordinary person.
“It has become clear that after the flood, there would be famine in our land. To forestall this impending tragedy, government has developed a robust plan to boost food production and ensure food security in the state.”
Government he noted would be involved in the production of essential food items like cassava, maize, cocoa yam, rice, plantain and livestock as well as provide support for individual farmers in the state.
Accordingly, the governor said plans are afoot to procure early maturing and high yielding cassava stem cuttings and other inputs from local and international research institutes even as he called on all farmers and fishermen in the state to brace up for the challenges posed by the flood.
Dickson urged the people of Bayelsa not to be despaired nor give up by whatever challenges posed by the flood which is not peculiar to the state but a natural disaster.
He disclosed that technical studies and measures initiated by his administration in opening up the drains and water courses in and around Yenagoa, actually minimized the effect of the predicted heavy rains and floods this year around the capital city.
”This year’s water levels have risen more than 10 meters above the usual flood levels. As you all know, our communities, farmlands located along the major rivers and creeks have been heavily impacted,” he disclosed.
The governor called on Bayelsans affected by the flood to take advantage of the three internally displaced persons’ centres at the Igbogene helipad, Samson Siasia stadium and Bishop Dimieri Grammar School for documentation.
Dickson also directed local government council chairmen working with the State Emergency Response Management Committee to establish more relief centres in each of the local governments as well as urging communities to set up relief camps on high grounds around them. He also released the following hot telephone lines: 07023001002, 07023001003 and 07023001004 for those in difficulties to call.