By Daud Olatunji
It was a black Friday in Abeokuta, as some parts of the Ogun State capital recorded massive flood that swept away many people, including two mothers, three children, two young boys and many valuables.
The multi-hour downpour pounded the city and environs on evening in an apocalyptic manner.
What started arround 4pm, like a normal rainfall, reportedly stopped, by some accounts, around 8pm in some areas..
It caught residents by surprise.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the development was as a result of the drainage challenges and poor construction of buildings along flood channels in the state capital, a situation the state government has been battling to resolve.
Sources familiar with the environmental challenges of Abeokuta reported that properties worth millions of Naira had been destroyed.
In the wake of what some have described as flash flooding, the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun immediately ordered some of his commissioners to swing into action, visiting some of the affected areas just as the raisns were about to subside.
Sunday Vanguard gathered from sources that the magnitude of the flooding would have been far more devastating than what happened, had the dam (OYAN) not been slightly opened to allow for the release of some volume of water.
Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that the release of some volume of water eased the pressure on the dam, without which the level of disaster would have been worse.
According to Governor Amosun in a telephone converstaion with Sunday Vanguard, “what happened on Friday caused flash flooding but we still have to thank God Almighty that the situation was saved because the pressure that would have been brought to bear on the dam had authorities not acted on time would have been something else. Mercifully, the water is recedding.
“Immediately we got wind of what was happening in some areas, we put in place a quick response team that saw to it that what could be saved in some areas were saved.
“Part of what we also did was to manage the information so that panic would not set in.”
As at the time of going to press, assessment of the level of damage was still being carried out by officials of the state government.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that as soon as some parts of Abeokuta began experinece the early stages of flash flooding, some residents began making frantic calls to friends and relatives in other parts, creating a situation that compounded the challenge of human and vehicular movement.
The number of casualties is yet to be confirmed but early reports indicated that a woman and her two children were swept away in the Ago-Ijesha area of the state capital.
Sunday Vanguard further gathered that in the same area, a mother and her toddler-daughter, were swept away by the flood during the torrential rain.
At the Adatan area, two young boys were reportedly killed while the attendant thunder storm, we gathered, killed a young man in Ijebu Ode.
It was gathered that in Isabo, Amolaso, Sokori, Lafenwa, Brewery, Iyana Montuary, Obada, Itori, Kuto and other areas, the story of anguish and pain remained the same as affected people were seen gnashing their teeth and lamenting over their material loses, while those who lost their family members cried ceaselessly
It was gathered that the rains also submerged houses in the area, particularly those along river banks around Amolaso, Isabo and Isale Igbein axis.
Even worship centres were not spared, as the Archdiocesan Headquarters of the Celestial Church of Christ, Ijaye, Abeokuta, was also severely hit while dozens of homes within the area were affected.
It was observed that at Ijaye, some of the residential buildings either collapsed or have consequently been made to be unsafe for habitation.
Also, the havoc by the torrential rain did not spare educational institutions as some also lost their properties and materials.
Areas hardest-hit were Ijaye, Omolasho, Kuto, Isale-Igbein, Lafenwa, Olomore, Ita-Aka and Ijeja, where the flood damaged the bridge linking Ijeja and other parts of the state capital.
Sunday Vanguard’s findings showed that billions of naira worth of properties were destroyed by the ravaging, massive flood.
Also, it was obaerved that scores of residents were sacked from their homes and shops when their apartments were either submerged or brought down by the flood. Household items, goods and other valuables were destroyed.
When Sunday Vanguard visited Omolasho and Kuto, which are major commercial areas of Abeokuta, goods and structures worth millions of naira had been swept away and emptied into a canal by the Isabo State High Court area, where the flood was most violent and fiercest.
Dozens of vehicles packed by the roadsides were also submerged, while some of them were dragged into gullies and pits.
Some youths were sighted battling to dig up one Toyota car buried near the Holy Cross Hospital, Ijaye, Abeokuta, by the devastating flood.
It was further learnt that bridges and vehicles were as well submerged by the flood, just as human and vehicular movements were affected.
There was a lockdown as thousands were stranded on their way from work and places of business for hours, following the massive flood that took over all access roads.
And whereas there were series of vehicular diversions, the flooded city became a scene of panic as there was no clear way to move in and out, while the rushing water spelt danger for many.
Another eyewitness’ account said there had been traffic gridlock for outbound and inbound vehicles of Olomore/Ita Oshin (the popular garrage); and human traffic created by residents who rushed out to watch the flow of the flood, further compounded the situation, thereby making the roads impassable.
The flood caused a gridlock everywhere as some of the bridges were almost completely submerged and motorists had to scamper here and there to find their way home. Many who did not know how to maneuver their way spent hours in the tiring and frustrating traffic jam.
Some visitors could not complete their journey while some travellers, we gathered, passed the night on the road.