Just Human

October 7, 2012

RAGE OF NATURE: Flood ravages communities across Nigeria

RAGE OF NATURE: Flood ravages communities across Nigeria

By Jide Ajani

Horror came in the shape of suicide in one of the resettlement camps in Kogi State where two victims of the ravaging floods decided to take their own lives.  They could not bear the loss of properties.  Suicide they wrote.   In relief camps in Kogi, 20 people have already died.  The conditions are not the best. Two bags of rice for 2000 victims per day: How would it go round?

First it was the flood which ravaged Lokoja and parts of Kogi State that made the headlines just about three weeks ago.  Then came more reports of other incidents of flooding across the country!  Areas hitherto never imagined would be flooded started recording same in its most destructive forms.

Areal view of Lokoja, Kogi State…under the siege of flood

In the reports below from Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Kogi, Kwara and Niger States – nine states in all – it is one lamentation song after another.

In a part of Cross River State, there is even no dry land to bury the dead.  It is that bad.

From Minna, Niger State came the bizarre story that displaced people are lobbying to stay in camps because of free food and free medicare they enjoy for now.  The only thing that explains that is sheer poverty.  At a car washing centre, the owners of four state-of-the-Art cars watched their vehicles submerged by flood waters while they waited for the rains to subside.

In Anambra, it was so bad that by the time Governor Obi got back to where his convoy of cars was parked after inspecting some flooded communities, the water level had risen and the cars had to be moved farther; the governor needed to do the remainder of the trip on foot, inside the flood which got to waist level.

In Patigi, some of their leaders said they last saw this type of flooding over 70 years ago.

In Delta State, some elderly persons had to cling to trees to stay afloat and alive. President Goodluck Jonathan’s State, Bayelsa, though accustomed to flooding, witnessed a new form of deluge this year.  From the sky, vast lands submerged by water could be seen.  Even storey buildings were not spared.

In Benue State, all those on the banks of the River Benue woke up to discover that water had entered their houses.  Like a nightmare, a step on the floor from their beds was a step on water, some up to waist level.  “We woke up inside water”, one of the victims of the flooding lamented!

For the downstream parts of the country, the water levels will still rise as the dams in Cameroun would still be opened again for the release of water.  And with the rains, there would be more water from Futa Jalon where the Niger River is fed.  It might take few more weeks before the devastation engages another gear, especially for those in the Delta region.

What has been the emergency response?  Well, the best on offer is not good enough. Read the following horrific stories and make up your mind.

ANAMBRA STATE: Flood and Gov Obi’s cry for help

By Vincent Ujumadu

With the plethora of canoes now plying the areas, you could easily mistake this terrain for a pure riverine area.  But they are not.  These were once lands, with roads snaking through them. Today what you have is a ‘sea’.

Four local government areas in Anambra State – Ogbaru, Anambra West, Anambra East and Ayamelum – have virtually been submerged by flood that is ravaging the affected areas. It began in August this year with the flooding of farmlands in Anambra West and while the state government was making efforts to assist the victims, the misfortune affected three other council areas.

Governor Peter Obi had to suspend the Independence Day celebration to meander through the flooded Onitsha-Osomala road in Ogbaru and Nmiata road in Anambra West to supervise the evacuation of people trapped in their communities by the menacing flood.

The damage done by flood in the affected areas has been enormous. For instance, the entire Nzam, Aguleri Otu (where President Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the Orient Peterleum facility), Nmiata, Odekpe, Osomala, Osuche, Atani, Amii, Umuzu, among other communities in the state are now under water and properties worth billions of naira in the four local government areas destroyed.

Also, the Ogbaru Anglican Cathedral and the Catholic Church in Atani, the Divisional Police Station and the High Court and Magistrate Courts in the area, as well as secondary and primary schools have been totally submerged and canoes are plying there as if nothing existed in the area before the flood.

At the Ogbaru local government headquarters in Atani, the menacing flood pulled down the fence and flooded most of the offices, necessitating the evacuation of all government property. The affected churches had also removed all their property and the Bishop; Reverend Samuel Ezeofor had relocated his household to safe area.

Road sides, which served as refugee camps have also become flooded and it was only this development that made the refugees to agree to move into designated camps provided by government. After persuading the people to leave their properties and secure their lives first, Obi thereafter used canoe to reach other communities trapped across the River Niger. By the time he returned to continue his inspection, it was difficult coming out from Osamalla as flood had already covered the entire road though which he would leave. The governor and his team had to wade through the flood, which reached their waists to get to where the convoy of vehicles was parked.

At each of the communities – Akili-Ogidi, Akili-Ozizor, Amiyi, Atani, Mputu, Obeagwe, Ochuche, Odekpe, Ogbakuba, Ogwu-Aniocha, Agwuikpele, Ohita, Okpoko, Ossomala, Umunankwo, Umuodu, Umuzu – the governor explained to them  why they should be evacuated and promised them that government would continue to assist them till the flood is over and rehabilitate them thereafter. Many camps have been established and government has provided the basic necessities to ensure that epidemic did not break out. Some places were designated as cooking points from where food is distributed to the camps located at Aguleri, Onitsha, Umuleri, among other places.

Even part of the commercial city of Onitsha housing many blue ship companies are also affected by flood, especially Habour Industrial Area.  The governor had to wade through flood to visit all the affected factories. Some of the factories already submerged were Pokobros, Krisoral, Bororo pipes and profiling, among others.

THE senator representing Anambra South in the upper legislative chambers, Dr. Andy Uba, who also visited the affected areas, said the senate would allocate more funds in next year’s budget for disaster management in various parts of the country in view the devastation caused by flood.

He said that while they were in Abuja sympathizing with other states affected by the disaster, he never knew that the situation in his own Anambra State was the worst as several communities in the five riverine local government areas have totally been submerged. The senator donated about N1 million.

BAYELSA STATE: Even for the water people of Bayelsa, towns were sacked
By Samuel Oyadongha

This year’s flood in Bayelsa has been described as unprecedented in the last 50 years. Life has been literarily brought to a standstill in the riverside communities eighty per cent of which have been submerged by flood and the people racing against time to see what they could salvage.

For a state with the longest coastline in the country, measuring approximately 800 miles and lying below sea level, the pain of the people is understandable.

It is on record that aside the people being assailed annually by devastating flood leading to destruction of their means of livelihood (fishing and farmland) their communities on the Atlantic fringe are also being swallowed up gradually by the surging ocean.

While the state semi-diurnal tidal regime ensures two tidal floods and two low ebb tides within the course of each day, wave actions along the coastline results in both depletion and loss of sediments in the beaches.

Hence, flooding, which have been perennial, forces residents in the flood prune areas to flee their homes to distant upland areas from the riverbanks, creeks and waterways.

Virtually every part of the state is under water except Nembe and Brass council areas.

Unlike in other parts of the country, this phenomenon is a yearly ritual for the people whose means of livelihood is not only destroyed but are also subjected to health hazards associated with such disaster.

Ironically, it is this same water which the people defecate into that also serves as their drinking water with the result that water borne diseases are rampant during the flood season in the predominantly riverine state.

Sadly, this year’s occurrence has turned out to be the worst for the natives as hitherto upland areas used as shelter by those fleeing from surging flood have all been submerged, leaving in its trail pain and sorrow.

“We have been overwhelmed by this year’s flood, there is apprehension everywhere in the land as virtually all the communities considered to be safe haven and often used as transit camps pending the return of normalcy in the past are gradually being taken over by the scourge,” lamented Ebiowei Ayaowe.  In fact, some of the victims lamented “this is Armageddon”

Sunday Vanguard’s investigations revealed that the hardest hit segments of the population are not the just the fishermen and the conventional formal occupations but the farmers, palm wine tapers and distillers. Also, schools have temporarily shut down in the flood devastated communities where fishing activities have been grounded due to the enormous volume of water.

What could have been the harvest of farm produce in the impacted communities such as cassava, sugar cane, yams, plantain, rice and others have been lost to the flood.

A troubled Bayelsan, Elder John Obu, whose Biseni hometown is also under water, blamed the sad scenario in the lower river Niger on the changing global weather condition which according to him is impacting negatively on the already fragile environment of the area. Though flooding is a yearly occurrence here but the magnitude of the destruction being unleashed on our communities should be a source of concern to the authorities as we cannot continue to live like hunted animals.”

One of the foremost environmentalists in the Niger Delta and an indigene of the state, Alagoa Morris, while xraying the situation in the riverside communities said, “it is a battle for survival in these communities as the folks are left alone to combat the scourge.

“It is sad to observe that the federal government has not shown the political will to address the problems of the area once and for all. The federal government interventionist agency, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) established to address the developmental aspiration of the people, is being starved of funds thereby hampering its objective.”

BENUE STATE: We woke up inside water, victims lament
By Peter Duru

Never in the history of Benue State have the people been so devastated by flood water.

The devastation, to say the least, took the people unawares and this accounted for the magnitude of losses incurred by victims – most woke up one morning to discover that they were sitting in the middle of an angry River Benue that overflowed its banks.

From Katsina-Ala to Makurdi down to Otukpo and Agatu, it was all tales of woes by the victims of the devastation; and as at the last count, close to 10,000 houses, business places, huts and farmlands have been swept away or submerged by the raging flood.

Worst hit by the devastation were residences and houses along the banks of River Benue and most structures within ten kilometers radius of the River.

Some of the communities and towns badly hit by the rising flood waters included Otukpo, Agatu and Apa local government areas of the state while in Makurdi areas like 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, were ravaged.

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 headquarters 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.

One of the victims of the flood and final year student of Benue State University, Mr. John Itodo, told Sunday Vanguard that the flood took them unawares.

He said, “We actually noticed a sudden rise in water levels along the banks of River Benue but we felt it was normal given the torrential rains two days before; but to our surprise we woke up one morning to discover that our houses have been completely submerged by water flowing from the river”.

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 escape with his family alive.

But as the victims continue to count their losses, the State government also moved to provide them some form of reprieve and succor; three displaced persons’ camps were immediately established to house the thousands of people who lost their homes to the deluge.

Flood submerged buildings at Umueze Anam, Anambra west LG

And as the number of the displaced families continued to swell, the state government increased the number of camps to four all of which were situated within the premises of schools located in High level, Wurukum and Wadata areas of Makurdi town.

Though the level of the devastation was beyond the scope of the state government, this bold initiative has also been accompanied with the provision of food and medications for the displaced with several donor agencies coming to the aid of the victims.

Members and officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and that of the Nigerian Red Cross Society have also been handy and helpful in ensuring that the displaced persons have access to good medicare and good food.

Benue State First Lady, Arc Mrs. Yemisi Suswam, was also on hand to extend assistance and aid to children, women and families in order to ameliorate their suffering.

Mrs. Suswam, who worked in tandem with officials of the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, frequents the camps to ensure that they were managed efficiently while also moving relief materials, clothing, food, school scandals, books and other learning aid to the displaced persons in the four camps.

According to Mrs. Suswam during one of her visits to the camps, “we will continue to stand by you in this trying moments.  Rest assured that I share your pains and suffering as a result of this devastation.

Mrs. Suswam, who also organized a 52nd Independence Day Anniversary Celebration for children of the displaced persons in Makurdi, used the occasion to receive two newly born babies at the Wurukum camp where she promised to personally cater for the needs of the new babies and their mothers.

CROSS RIVER STATE: 178 communities, 79, 000 people, affected
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

ABOUT 79, 000 people have been displaced by natural disasters in the past nine months in Cross River State. Out of the number, more than half – 49, 918 – were displaced by flood as a result of the release of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.

The flood affected 178 communities, killed 11 persons and destroyed 15 churches, 13 schools and 18 markets. The worst hit was Biase Local Government Area where 18 communities were sacked, 11 persons drowned, eight churches, six schools and nine markets destroyed.

The flood also displaced 26 communities from Ikom Local government Area and destroyed one school and two markets. In Odukpani Local government Area, 29 communities were displaced, while 34 communities were sacked by the flood in Ogoja Local Government Area with three churches, four schools and two markets destroyed.

In Obubra, 18 communities were rendered homeless, four churches, two schools and five markets destroyed, while the flood turned indigenes of 22 communities’ into refugees in their fatherland. Abi also was not left out as 13 communities were also displaced.

At Umon Island in Biase, a seven year old girl was killed, three declared missing while two were taken to hospital where they were receiving treatments following an overflow of the Cross River that swept away the community.

Among those receiving treatment at the community Health Centre, Umon who narrowly escaped death when their houses collapsed on them (but were lucky that the youths on vigilante exercise were around) are a 53 year old woman and a 78 year old man.

The corpses of the missing children feared drowned in their houses and apparently washed into the river were yet to be found despite the efforts made by the village divers searching for them so that they could be given befitting burial.

The family of the dead girl who had already been buried was yet to fully absorb the shock as they were seen mourning at the grave side.

In Umon Island alone over 40 houses with about 1,500 people while about 70% of the entire village with a population of 6,000 has been flooded, and movement between houses done either by wading through water which is at waist level or canoes.

A prominent Chief of the community Elder Okon Nya Aniyom, 78, while reacting to the disaster recalled that such catastrophe had occurred twice in his lifetime; 1971 and 1991 but that the magnitude could never be compared with what was happening.

In Calabar Municipality, over nine residential buildings were pulled down by gully erosion occasioned by the heavy flood, while about 15 others are highly vulnerable to collapsing along the Atimbo water channel.

The flood sacked 150 people from their homes. One of the victims, a widow who recently lost her husband to assassins in Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Helena Akpabio, lamented that the section of her apartment where she was residing had collapsed with her household property. Mrs. Akpabio who was with a 3 month old child said that she had no place to go to and pleaded with the state government and philanthropic organizations to urgently come to her aid.

Delivering a paper at a workshop jointly organized by the State ministry of Information and the United Nation’s Children Fund, UNICEF, with the theme ‘Flooding and Climate Change Adaptation in Cross River State:  Safety measures for School Children.

 EDO STATE:River Niger creates 500,000 refugees, as  Dokpesi’s house submerges
By Simon Ebegbulem

Not less than 500,000 persons have become refugees in Edo State as a result of the ravaging flood problem caused by the over flow of the River Niger. The ravaging flood which has taken over 20 communities and destroyed virtually everything in the affected areas including, buildings, house hold properties and food crops in their farmlands.  At the Ekperi Grammar School, Ugbekpe Ekperi, there were over 60, 000 refugees from Yuluwa village, Ofukpo, Agbabu, Iguzi-Ofukpe, Udaba, Unudoboh, Udaba-Ogho, Anegette all in Etsako Central.

Governor Peter Obi , with Anglican Bishop of Mbamili, Most Rev. Henry Okeke transversing what was once a sprawling community of Umueze Anam in a boat.

The palace of the Daudu of Usumegbe, Chief John Musa, and that of the village head of Udaba, Chief David Inetape are among the buildings that have been submerged in the flood. The houses of the proprietor of DAAR Communications, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi and that of the former chairman of Etsako West, Stanley Odidi were among those that submerged.

In Agenebode, the headquarters of Etsako East Local Government Area and its surrounding villages have also been taken over by the flood, while Ilushi, Urho, Urhowa and Inyelen in Esan South East Local Government Area  have completely been destroyed by the flood with the entire people moved to Ubiaja the council headquarters. Governor Adams Oshiomhole inspected the affected areas penultimate week with a helicopter.

At some point the governor and his entourage had to paddle canoes in order to get access to some of the interior communities. All the affected communities are in Etsako Central, Etsako West and Esan South East Local Government Councils of the state.

Oshiomhole who expressed shock over the incident, described it as worse than tsunami and immediately released the sum of N100million for the purchase of relief materials for the victims. He also assured that government will look for a long-term solution to avoid a re-occurrence in the future just as he said government will liaise with the Federal Government to get relief for the displaced persons.

“What has happened is an act of God and no one can challenge the will of God. In other parts of the country, we have heard of the loss of lives, but so far we have not recorded any death. Let us pray that the river goes back to its boundary. We are sending relief materials which must be shared to everybody irrespective of which political party they belong to, and doctors will be sent to treat those who are sick. We are also sending the Comrade Buses to evacuate those still in the flooded communities to the camps. More communities are affected and the water level is rising.  We all appear completely helpless and the Federal Government ought to do more than they have done. The situation calls for a far more drastic response” he added.

Oshiomhole noted that there are long-term implications as farm lands have been destroyed, domestic animals have been killed.

“This phenomenon got even more intense last year and so far, this year, it has become very alarming as all rivers in the country have overflowed their banks and a large number of communities and local governments from Lokoja in Kogi through Etsako West in Edo State down to Biase in Cross River State are all presently under water and as the rainy season peaks, we must be vigilant for more flood incidents, because the weather has become unpredictable and extreme conditions like excessive rainfall, severe windstorm, heat wave and drought have become more frequent with adverse effects on the economy, environment, agricultural production and food security lives and livelihoods” he stated.

However, the situation became more tragic when four persons were said to have died in the camps. A middle-aged man identified as Alhaji Bila, reportedly slumped and died at the Ekperi Grammar School, Etsako Central Local Government Council.

Public-spirited individuals have continued to send relief materials to the displaced persons to ameliorate their plight. Some of those who have been assisting so far includes the former chairman of Etsako West Local Government Council, Stanley Odidi, the national leadership of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), TY Danjuma Foundation, a chieftain of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) John Akhigbe and host of others.

Bila slumped and died during an on-the-spot assessment of flood ravaged communities and presentation of relief materials and medical support services by the NMA led by its President, Dr Osahon Enabulele. Meanwhile the Committee set up by the Edo State Government to distribute relief materials to the affected persons has intensified its activities. While distributing the materials, last Monday, Chairman of the Relief Committee working in conjunction with the State Emergency Relief Agency, Hajia Maimuna Momodu, said the relief materials were palliative measures to soothe the pains of the victims and take care of their immediate needs.

NIGER STATE: 117 communities, 663,000 persons affected, as Victims lobby to make camp site permanent
By Wole- Mosadomi

In what is emerging as a comic twist to the flooding disaster in Niger State, some of the victims who are currently sheltered in camps in some parts of the state are insisting that they would like to continue living there?  Why?  Abject poverty!

For the people of Niger State in the past years, flooding had been limited to communities along Rivers Niger and Kaduna especially affecting those living downstream of Jebba, Kanji and Shiroro which are the three multibillion naira hydro electricity generating stations in the state.

However, the flooding of this year extended to other communities in most parts of the state including Chanchaga, Bosso, Munya, Shiroro, Borgu, Wushishi, Mokwa, Bida Edati and Lapai.  Besides the human lives lost, properties worth millions of naira were lost including animals and farm produce.

As at last week, 49 lives had been lost to the flood, 117 communities displaced with no fewer than 663,000 people affected.  The heavy rainfall was complemented by excess water released from the three hydro-electricity Dams of Shiroro, Jebba and Kainji in the past few weeks.

In Minna the state capital, despite the multimillion naira drainage system across the city, flooding also ravaged some of the communities resulting in the death of four people.

More devastating was a family who lost two children – Bashir, 12years, and Mustapha, 10years – had their lives terminated when they slipped into a flowing drainage in front of the Bahago Plaza, in the Tunga area during a heavy downpour.

The Legal Adviser to the leading opposition party in the state, Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, Barrister Joseph Kolo, also died mysteriously during a downpour in Minna. Though he was not washed away by flood, his death came while in his car waiting in front of the gate to his friend’s house for the heavy rains to subside when a heavy tree gave way to the rainstorm and fell on his car, smashing it – he died  instantly.

Also in Bosso Local Government Area which is a neighbouring local government to Chanchaga, members of Gwaibaitas family of Gungel Village was thrown into mourning as two members of the family were washed away by flood after a heavy downpour. The corpses of the deceased were later recovered kilometers away from their area the following day.

Similarly, Zungeru, in Wushishi Local Government Area of the state also had its own bitter experience of this years flooding. Besides farmlands washed away, two Fulani herdsmen were also washed away with their cows. Worst hit are Mokwa and Lapai Local Government Areas of the state where lives and farm produce were lost.

Mostly affected are Aza, Muregi, Zdagu, Egagi, Zdagu, Ketso Kpashafu and Lenfakus, all in Mokwa Local Government Area of the state.

In Lapai, communities displaced are Eshiu, Kpataku, Dere, Egba, Reba, Achiba, Muye-Gbako, Tsakanabi, Ebwa and they want to be relocated at Kolu in Egba Junction in Bina area. Others are Egya and Sokun who want to be relocated in Nambata-Ebege area, Pelle, Rigido, Edda, Gbami who want to be resettled at Puzhi area while Yawa, Yambabu, Koki, Elegi and Mumbu communities want to be relocated at Madalla area.

Workers at a car washing centre in Minna also watched helplessly when four cars brought for washing were submerged by the torrential rainfall just as valuable properties left in the vehicles were either damaged or washed away in the presence of the vehicle owners.

In an interview with our correspondent, Director General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency, NSEMA, Malam Mohammed Shaba, confirmed that almost 665,000 people have been displaced from no fewer that 117 communities in the state.

Chairman, Lapai Local Government Area, Alhaji Isah Saidu, has led officials of the council to the affected areas to commiserate with the affected people and gave them cash and other relief materials.

Managing Director, Upper Niger River Basin Development Authority, Professor Paul Marley, has raised an alarm over the flooding witnessed across the country in the past few weeks saying, it is a threat to the food security programme of the federal government. According to him, “except for rice that is highly tolerant to water, other cereals like maize, Millet e.t.c. cannot. Horticulture crops and other food crops in flood affected areas are being lost and this will cause the country big problem in food production next year because it may take long for the water to subside and this may lead to high prices in food next year.”

Interestingly, while many of those in various temporary camps are clamouring for their immediate return home or be resettled to a permanent place to start a new life, some of them feel contented and happy with where they are, due to the free medication and most importantly free food they are given.

Malam Shaba confirmed this while addressing Journalists on the latest flooding in the state pointing out that some of the victims who are temporarily camped at the expense of government are already lobbying some government officials to leave them where they are since they are not complaining.

KWARA STATE: N300m, One million hectres of rice, maize farmlands, gone, 86 communities sacked by flood

By Demola Akinyemi

The magnitude of flood disaster penultimate week in Patigi, headquarters of Patigi Local Government in the northern part of Kwara State was devastating to say the least.

Patigi, a rural and agrarian/fishing community is about three hours journey from Ilorin, the capital of the state; only a river separates it from the neighbouring Niger State, to the north.

Tragedy struck penultimate week when waters from Rivers Niger and Kaduna, coupled with heavy rainfall and the overflow of Jebba dam, caused devastating problem in the entire local government area leaving in its trail untold losses in cash crops, domestic animals, houses, and other properties.

While the disaster lasted, residents of more than 70 communities in the area were displaced just as 16 communities were completely submerged by the ravaging floods from both rivers.

Sunday Vanguard’s visit to the area revealed that about one million hectares of farmland of rice and large number of hectares of maize worth more than N300 million were destroyed.

Among the affected communities are Kpata-Gbaradogi, Gunji-Saaci, Gbafun, Gakpan, Vuma, Esungi, Mawogi, among others.

During the visit to the areas, Sunday Vanguard gathered that the last time a disaster of such magnitude occurred was some 76 years ago.

Some of the victims of the flood were resettled at an outskirt of Patigi community on a piece of land given to them by the Etsu of Patigi; but, expectedly, their mood couldn’t have been any worse.

Speaking with Sunday Vanguard, the community leaders of Gunji-Saaci and Gbafun communities who are now at the resettlement camp, located close to another river with their family members, said it is the seventh time they are relocating from one location to another due to flood problem.

The community heads said that flood usually destroyed their cash crops, food items and property anytime there it occurred; this situation, they said, had made it difficult for them to garner enough financial muscle to erect comfortable and permanent structures to live in.

One of the victims, Mohammed Ibrahim, who is now displaced with members of his family, told Sunday Vanguard that the flood has destroyed his abode, his belongings, farms, animals, boats and nets.

Mohammed said all he had with him are his soaked mattress, earthen pots and cooking pots.

Also affected is the ancestral home of the commissioner for Solid Minerals and Industries, Alhaji Aliyu Umar.

According to him, “There is nothing we can do but to pray to Allah to put a stop to all the misfortune. It has happened but we never expected it so soon. We experienced this kind of flood, according to one of my grandfathers who is still alive, 76 years ago – way back around 1934/1935. It used to come, but not as much as it has come this year.

“Because of the construction of dam upstream, those of us at the downstream are at the mercy of the flood. Before the dam, we at the downstream know when the flood will come and how to manage the resources, the level it will reach and how to anticipate it.  But after the construction of the dams, the story changed. People living around the riverine area who used to be fishermen were forced to become farmers; but whenever the floods come, it washes away their farmlands. This is devastating. River Kaduna has a confluence with River Niger here in Patigi. The rivers affect us here. So many communities have migrated naturally against their wish”, he stressed.

The Head of Service (HOS), Alhaji Dabarako Mohammed and Special Adviser to governor on Emergency and Relief Services, Alhaji Musa Abdulahi, who led the government delegation to the areas, said no life was lost, adding that though residential buildings, worship centres and schools were pulled down by the flood.

Chairman of the local government, Alhaji Taoheed Lata, said the 48-hour flood alert notice, given by NEMA to residents of river banks, was inadequate for the residents to relocate.

According to him, “They should have given us up to one month or two months’ notice. There are crops you can plant for three months and they will germinate. But with rain already going, it will be late to plant any crop again this year and the people will be the ones to suffer for this”.

DELTA STATE: Royal father drowns during evacuation; villagers weep
By Emma Amaize

Over the decades, the people of Oko-Anala, Oko-Ogbele and Oko- Amakom in Oshimili South Local Government Area of Delta State have been living near the bank of the River Niger, between Anambra and Delta States, and have had to contend with sporadic overflows from the river, but nothing in the scale of what happened, this year.

The state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, was flabbergasted when he inspected the damage wreaked by flood in the communities and practically swore that he was going to relocate them from the flood-prone environment. At the back of Government House on Asaba-Anwai Road, Asaba, several other riverside communities, bordering Anwai in Oshimili South and Illah waterside in Oshimili North local government areas were submerged.

In a community in Ndokwa-East local government area of the state, a traditional ruler, who was being evacuated from his undersea community drowned when the boat capsized, while old men, women and children climbed trees like monkeys in some affected communities to escape the rage of the flood that had swallowed their homes.

Three persons have been reported dead and over 300, 000 persons rendered homeless in 220 communities in the state in the latest sea surge. A riverine dweller, Mr. John Okotie, told Sunday Vanguard, “The flood reminded me of days of Noah in the Bible when God sent flood to wipe out the entire human race because of sin”.

He is not alone. Niger-Delta activist, Comrade Omolubi Newuwumi, who hails from Ogheye community in Warri North local government area, told Sunday Vanguard, “We are living in water; the rage of the River Niger is not strange to us. It overflows every time and swallows our people and their homes, we have been crying over the years that government should come to our assistance, nobody listened to us, Newuwumi asserted.

Like Omolubi, ex-chairman of Gbekebor, a predominantly Ijaw fishing settlement in Burutu local government area, which is also inundated by flood, Comrade Alapala Ebitonmo, told Sunday Vanguard, “Ocean surge has constituted a threat to our lives and property for many decades, but we never dreamed of what happened this year”.

His words, “The havoc wreaked by the water on the community is unusual and pathetic. It has accounted for a large proportion of losses; properties worth millions of naira, people are prone and infected with deadly diseases, all schools in my town have been closed down, residential houses and commercial shops devastated”, he added.

President of Gbekebor Peace Movement and secretary of Gbekebor Urban Community, Messrs. Oyinkro Egberibo and Tonfa Cyprian respectively, passionately to the Federal Ministry of Environment, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Governor Uduaghan, Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC  and non-governmental organizations,  NGOs,  to come to the aid of the community.

Briefing Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan on the rescue operations and distribution of relief materials to victims of the flood disaster in the state, chairman of the state’s Rehabilitation Committee for Flood Victims and Deputy Governor, Prof Amos Utuama, SAN, said, Wednesday, that from the indications on grounds, the situation could get worse. Governor Uduaghan, who, last week, gave marching orders to top government officials from the affected areas to relocate to their domains and assist the victims, had been thinking nothing in the last few days, but flood and its effect the people of the state.

You could see the anguish in him as he paddled a boat to Anwai and some other affected communities on Wednesday. As somebody who has been ventilating on climate change before now, he knew as his deputy stated that danger is not over yet.

Just as Utuama was reporting to him on Wednesday, news came that another community, this time, Ogodobiri in Bomadi local government area has gone underwater.  A government official from the area said, “My community, Ogodobiri is submerged. Our farms, which is the source of livelihood for the people have been destroyed.  Hunger looms in the land, residents are crying for help, they need help from the Federal Government, state government, NEMA, NDDC, NGOs and well-meaning Nigerians”, he added.

Uduaghan, who is also from Abigbrodo, a riverine community in Warri North local government simply told reporters, “This year’s flood is unprecedented. As many of you know, the latest disaster was triggered by the unusually heavy rainfall that was recorded this year and the opening of the Lagdo Dam in Cameroun, which was thought to be a proactive step to contain what, if they had delayed further, would have been a major catastrophe”.

He indicated that unapproved structures that stand in natural water channels or flood prone areas would be removed, adding, residents were warned early enough in the year and if they had heeded the warning, the damage would have been less.

KOGI STATE:Frustrated, two victims commit suicide in Kogi
By Boluwaji Obahopo

Lokoja – Tales of woes and tears have ravaged the relief camps in Kogi State. Two victims have committed suicide in the State having been frustrated by the heavy losses they incurred. Also 16 other victims have died across the 17 camps set up for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) bringing the total number of deaths in the relief camps to 20. The two victims who committed the suicide are from Ibaji Local Government Area which is the worst hit of all the areas ravaged by the devastating flood. Among those dead is a four year old baby boy.

There is great hunger and anger at the relief camps. Food items and relief materials are grossly inadequate. “We are facing problem with the distribution of food due to the shortage. There are about 30,000 victims in the camps and we are using two bags of rice to feed about 2000 persons in each of the camps, an official said.

The Lokoja metropolis has also continued to have its fair share of the crisis. Presently, no vegetarian can survive in the state as all the markets are yet to have vegetables on sale – areas where such vegetables are grown have been submerged or washed away totally.

However, more people and organisations have continued to show sympathy to the plight of the flood victims. Among the organisations that have made their contributions is the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, which has expressed concern over the health of flood victims camped in the affected areas and urged the Federal Government to be proactive in disaster management.

National President of NMA, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, who visited the state on Wednesday going round some of the relief camps presented relief materials, including drugs and other items to the victims, lamented that the victims were suffering due to the failure of government to establish a proactive emergency management unit.

Expressing fears of epidemic in some of the camps, Enabulele explained that NMA decided to visit the camps to see how to assist the victims, by ensuring that women and children accessed good medical care. Also, a Non-Governmental Organisation, Partner for Development and Baby Hannatu Foundation, have donated some relief materials to Kogi State government to assist the flood victims.

Representatives of the organisation, Mr. Tommy Amergo, who presented the relief materials to the state governor at the Government House, said they were touched by the effects of the disaster caused by the flood.

A former Military administrator of the State, Col Bzigu Afakirya, rtd, also donated a consignment of relief materials to flood victims in the State. The items presented in Lokoja included 150 bags of rice, mattresses and blankets.

Meanwhile, The House of Representatives Committee on Environment has assured the Kogi State Government that the National Assembly would be instrumental in the provision of support from the Federal Government to provide relief for the victims of flood in the country.

Sunday Vanguard gathered from various relief camps in the nine Local Government Areas that are affected by the flood disaster that there are no unusual health and social challenges in any of the camps. At Idah, where the camps of victims from Ibaji and Idah Local Governments are located, the Red Cross Society inaugurated a new chapter, during which 40 new people were inducted into the organization. The State Chairman of the Red Cross, Hon Mustapha Allahdey, said the new entrants would be given a quick induction to enable them join in the rescue operation and humanitarian services.

Meanwhile, majority of the people of Ibaji who were trapped in the flood have been moved to Idah. NEMA and Red Cross said that most of those still staying in the flooded areas of Ibaji are those who refused to move due to some cultural and spiritual beliefs they are professing.

Presently, the figures of affected communities have risen to 400, while NEMA has disclosed that the country might experience more flooding. The zonal co-ordinator of Abuja office of the agency, Mr. Ishaya Chinoko who disclosed this said what the nation is currently experiencing was white flood arising from excessive rainfall in the country. He added that more waters are coming from Cameroun and Guinea, the two sources of Rivers Niger and Benue otherwise known as black flood, and warned communities yet to relocate along the riverine areas to move now for their own safety.