BY PETER DURU, Makurdi
As rising flood water continues to ravage parts of the country, victims of the disaster in Benue state have continued to count their losses even as many continue to lament their fate.
The devastation which sacked communities in Makurdi, Apa, Agatu, Otukpo, Guma, Buruku, Tarka and Kasina-Ala local government areas of the state left on its trail over 250,000 displaced persons with thousands of farmlands, houses and huts either submerged or washed away.
Indeed, the flood ravaged and swept way anything within 10 kilometers radius of the bank of River Benue .
Some of the communities and towns badly hit by the rising flood waters 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 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 rising water levels were 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 and the cooperate headquaters of state owned transportation company, Benue Links Nigeria, all in Makurdi.
The devastation also sacked majority of the students of the state owned Benue state university who moved out in droves after losing most of their books and house hold items to the flood.
So far the death toll from the deluge in Benue State has been minimal with one death so far, recorded.
Some of the victims of the devastation narrated their experiences to Saturday Vanguard, pleading that the Federal government intensified efforts in ameliorating their condition given the magnitude of the deluge which is far beyond the capacity of the Benue state government.
As for 57 year old Zaki Adev Serser Francis, who is the New Bridge Traditional Head, controlling Kongba Community, he would not forget in a hurry the unfortunate ordeal.
Aside losing his 25 year old daughter, Dooshima to the flood, he is one of the many families whose houses were also washed away by the raging flood.
Narrating his ordeal to Saturday Vanguard at the LGEA Primary School, Wurukum, one of the designated camps for displaced persons in the state where he is now taking refuge with his family alongside hundreds of other families who were displaced by the rising Benue River water, Chief Adev said after the water started rising, his daughter, Dooshima, a mother of four came and informed him that she saw flood coming towards their compound but that she would hurriedly go to the farm to harvest some maize but never made it back home.
“My daughter, Dooshima came one day and told me that she saw plenty water coming towards our compound but that she would quickly go to the farm to harvest some maize and I bade her bye-bye. Sadly, my daughter could not come back again. She got drowned in the flood. I lost her as she died leaving four children behind for me to cater for.”
Zaki Adev said when he saw the rate at which the flood was coming, he quickly move some of his belongings and his other children to an open space close to the Wurukum round-about until he heard an announcement on the state radio that the state government had established camps for displaced people.
While thanking the state and federal government for the help rendered to displaced persons, Zaki Adev, however appealed to the state and federal governments to help him resettle after the flood crisis adding that he no longer has any house or farmland to return to as his compound and farmlands have all been washed away.
Corroborating Zaki Adev’s story, Zonal Coordinator of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in charge of North Central, Mr. Abdusalam Mohammed who described the extent of the flood in Benue as massive, said only one casualty was recorded.
Mohammed attributed the cause of the flood to the release of water from the Ladgo Dam in Cameroun, torrential rainfall and global warming adding that the flood is very devastating for Benue State since it is one of the frontline states along the Benue River.
Also recounting his loss, father of four, Mr. Romeo Dajoh said he lost several of his household items but thanked God that he was able to excape with his family alife.
While Titus Nnamuka was not so lucky as he was unable to remove anything from his house but for the cloths he and members of his family were putting on when the flood struck Wurukum.
According to him, “We saw the rising water coming like a strong wave, we all ran away leaving our property. I was lucky that I did not lose any of my four children and pregnant wife.
We thank the state and federal government for coming to our aid but I still believe that they can do more for us because we are now completely helpless.
Meanwhile as the government, NGOs, public spirited individuals and international organisations extend succour to victims of the flood, Benue State First Lady, Arc. Mrs. Yemisi Suswam who was among the early callers to the flood sites and resettlement camps for the displaced has called for prayers for the country.
Mrs. Suswam who supplies relief materials as food, beverages, school books and sandals to the victims on weekly basis, assured them that she would also share in their pains, promising to continually reach out to them.
While presenting the relief material to the victims through the State Emergency Management Agency, she assured the flood victims that the state government was working round the clock with relevant agencies to ensure that the displaced lived a normal live again.
Also in one of his visits to the camps, Governor Gabriel Suswam also called on public spirited individuals to extend assistance to the victims. This call was heeded by many prominent Benue sons and daughters including the Senate President, David Mark, Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, Minister of State for Trade and Investment Dr. Samuel Ortom, Chief Barnabas Gemade and a host of other who have since extended support to the victims.