Lagos – The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has warned that the intensity of the first rain in parts of the country on Thursday is a signal of imminent storms and flooding this year.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that heavy rainfall was recorded in some states such as Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti, resulting in the flooding of some areas.
NEMA’s South-West Coordinator Iyiola Akande told NAN in Lagos on Saturday that the intensity of the rainfall confirmed NEMA’s prediction that 2011 was a disaster-prone year.
He, however, urged Nigerians to brace for the challenges posed by climatic change to mitigate the impact of the possible disasters.
“The first rain of the year that lasted for hours on Thursday is a confirmation of NEMA’s prediction that 2011 will witness heavy rainfall and thunderstorms.
“Unlike the usual first rain which always comes in showers and ends abruptly, Thursday‘s rain was heavy. It lasted longer and covered many states at once.
“This is a warning signal that must be taken serious by all. This is a time to be proactive, a time to prepare adequately for the challenges ahead,” he warned.
Akande advised state and local governments to immediately commence the clearing and dredging of drains, while demolishing structures built on waterways.
He also urged the governments to embark on intensive public awareness campaigns to sensitise the people to the dangers threatening the environment.
He called for the planting of trees to reduce the impact of thunderstorms, recalling that a recent storm destroyed about 62 houses in Ipao-Ekiti, Ekiti State.
Akande also recommended the establishment of Emergency Management Vanguards/Volunteers to sensitise the populace to environmental issues, while encouraging public vigilance in case of emergencies.
“Disaster management is everybody’s business. Disasters often happen in local communities. The ‘vanguards and volunteers’ will be useful in awareness-creation, early-warning and information-dissemination activities.
“NEMA is adequately prepared for the challenges but we need more volunteers to reduce the impact of disasters,” he said.
The NEMA coordinator particularly urged people in urban areas to desist from dumping refuse in drains and waterways, while erecting their structures with quality building materials.