BY PETER DURU & UMAR YUSUF
MAKURDI— Disaster hit Makurdi, Benue State capital and several communities in the state, yesterday, as an unprecedented surge of River Benue swept away several houses, leaving thousands of people homeless with property worth billions of naira washed away.
The surge which started building up Sunday night had at the last count, submerged close to 10,000 residential houses, business places, huts and farmlands.
Worst hit by the devastation were houses within the bank of the river and most structures within five kilometres radius of the river.
Some of the affected communities included: Kucha Otebe, Gyado Villa, brick factories in Wadata and New Garage, the abattoir along the new Makurdi Bridge, North Bank and the highbrow Judges quarters area of the town where Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume and Minister of State, Trade and Investment, Dr. Samuel Ortom have their residential houses.
Also threatened by the steady rise in water levels is the main campus of the Benue State University and the newly constructed Benue University Teaching Hospital; the Regional Headquarters of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, all in Makurdi.
The flood also sacked most of the students of the state owned Benue State University who were moving out in droves after losing most of their books and house hold items to the flood.
A final year student of the university, Mr. John Itodo, told Vanguard that the flood took them unawares.
He said: “Two days ago, we noticed a sudden rise in water levels along the bank of River Benue, and we felt it was normal given the torrential rains in the last few days; but to our surprise, we woke up this morning to discover that our houses had been completely submerged by water flowing from the river.
“Some of us have been able to rescue few of our belongings from the flood but many lost virtually everything. This is the first time we are witnessing this type of disaster in this part of the country”, he added as he fought back tears.
Meanwhile the state Director of Environment at the Ministry of Water Resources and Environment, Mr. Daniel Iorshahea, has warned residents living within the banks of River Benue and other adjoining communities to immediately vacate their abode to avoid being swept away by the fast increasing water levels of the river.
Adamawa flood: 25 bodies discovered in Yola
In a related development, 25 decomposing bodies were, yesterday, discovered at the bay of River Benue in Yola, by Local Water Transport Operators following the flood in Adamawa. Water transport operators, told Vanguard, yesterday, that, on a daily basis, they discover corpses, adding that the latest discovery was the highest number since the flood started.
They observed that most of the victims might have been floated from the river bank in Cameroon Republic and other adjoining villages along the river bank.
According to them, the families of the deceased often alerted them of the disappearance of their wards and children, adding that they had been on the look out for corpses on the water.
However, Adamawa State Government has urged all those who were displaced by the flood not to go back to their homes yet until government decides it is safe to do so. The Secretary to the state government, Mr Ari Kobis Thimnu warned that more water will still be released from the Lagdo Dam authorities.