- …4 killed in Delta; 2 cathedras, naval base submerged in Anambra
- …Riverine Anambra communities abandon homes; Okowa visits impacted areas
By Festus Ahon, Vincent Ujumadu, Peter Duru & Chimaobi Nwaiwu
Flood have ravaged Delta, Anambra and Benue states, with a blind man and three others including an 11-year-old boy reportedly killed, when the Powerlines area in Asaba, the Delta State capital, was submerged.
In Anambra, two Cathedrals belonging to Anglican Church in Anambra State and a naval post in the state have been submerged.
The Basilica of St. James the Great Cathedral, Atani in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State and the Cathedral Church of St. Michael, Diocese of Mbamili Umuikwu, Anam, Anambra West Local Government Area of the state have been taken over by the flood.
Also submerged by flood were the naval out Post at Odekpe, in Ogbaru LGA and the residence of the Chairman of Ogbaru Local Government Area of the state, Mr. Arinze Awogu and hundreds of houses in 16 communities in Ogbaru LGA of the state.
In Benue, the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, has declared the state a floor risk zone following days of steady rise in the water level of River Benue.
In Delta State, Secretary of Powerlines Community, Mr. Emma Ekube, said the victims died after the wooden boat they were trying to escape with capsized in the flood water, adding that the house of the blind victim and others had already been submerged by the flood.
Ekube, who spoke with newsmen at the Internally Displaced Persons, IDP, camp at Ogbe-Afor Primary School in Asaba, said the two children of the blind victim survived the accident, lamenting that the entire area had been submerged by flood water from River Niger.
Saying that most of the victims were reluctant to vacate the place and move to IDP camp so as to protect whatever was left of their property, he said; “A man lost his life there. The boat he was using to come out from his house to escape from the flood capsized.
“He was trying to come out from the water. His two children who were with him survived. The drowned man is blind and he should be in his 60s. It happened four days ago.”
Ekube, who is a fisherman, said “I was also a victim of the 2012 flood but I did not go to the IDP camp provided then by the state government but I decided to move my family to the camp against the opinion of other residents that their 2012 camp experience was nothing to write home about.
“I feel it is better to come out of that place. My family is safe, my five children and my wife they are here now. I have been telling my people in Powerline to come to the camp.”
Incident Commander of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA for Delta and Anambra States, Walson Brandon decried that three persons including the 11-year old boy have already lost their lives as a result of the flood.
Disclosing that the 11-year boy drowned at Okpai in Ndokwa East Local Government Area, he said the sexes and age of the other two victims who drowned in Asaba, Oshimili South Local Government Area were not known.
Brandon said six local government areas of Oshimili South, Ndokwa East, Ughelli South, Patani, Burutu and Bomadi have been heavily impacted by the ravaging flood in Delta State.
Meanwhile, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who undertook an on-the-spot assessment of some of the impacted communities in Asaba, assured that government would make life comfortable for the victims in the various IDP camps across the state.
Okowa, who spoke to newsmen shortly after also inspecting facilities at the Ogbe-Afor camp, said machinery had been put in place to monitor the victims in wherever place to chose to stay.
He appealed to the victims to move the camp.
Okowa, who frowned at the reluctance of some of the victims to move out of their submerged homes, said the state government may be left with no other option than to forcefully evacuate them from the places if danger was lurking.
“But for now, we keep supplying them food items and constantly monitor them. This camp has been fumigated, you can see the place is being kept clean to make it habitable for the victims. We have insecticide treated mosquito nets. Mattresses and pillows are here. A clinic with medical personnel has been set up here.”
Saying that most of the victims who have refused to move had taken temporary refuge at the Julius Berger construction site where the second Niger Bridge is being constructed, Okowa said; “The other place is the Julius Berger site which is a very high point, the water will never get there, they also want to over look their communities to ensure that nothing goes wrong. It is quite difficult to convince them to leave but I decided to allow it because that place is a high point, and Julius Berger staff are there working.
Succour for victims
“What we need to do is to provide them with food items, insecticide treated nets and other necessary medical services. But we will continue to monitor them on a daily basis what goes on, and if there is a need to move them from there, we will. If we find out that the danger is there, we will no longer plead, we will move them out forcefully.
“We could not access Oko-Anala because the entire road had been taken up by water, and I am told that many of the people have moved. I have just directed that they should go through the Onitsha end to find out if the people are safe.
“Those in Oko-Ogbele have also moved out of there because that place is completely submerged. I know that people have gone to Udu, and many places in Isoko South, Aviara, Uzere, Emede and some parts of Isoko North.
“I have just directed that they should send relief materials to the people in Tsekelewu because that place is already submerged but because they are used to water, they don’t want to leave, they have been able to improvise a high point where they are staying, what they need actually is food items to enable them survive through this period.”
Submerged communities visited by the governor include Oko-Amakom, Powerline, Oko-Anala and Oko-Ogbele all in Oshimili South.
Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo would be in Delta State tomorrow (today) to inspect some of the communities affected by the ravaging flood.
VP Osinbajo’s visit
Osibanjo who is expected to arrive about 8a.m., on a one day working visit, would be received by Governor Okowa at the Asaba International Airport and taken round the impacted area.
In Anambra State, the flood last Sunday forced worshipers at the two Cathedrals to moved to alternative places to worship while families have either relocated to Onitsha and Asaba to squat with their relations.
Cathedras evacuated in Anambra
The Bishop of Mbamili Diocese, Rt. Rev. Henry Okeke, said that flooding has become part of them after their 2012 bitter experience.
Bishop Okeke disclosed he has already relocated vital movable property such as cars and office equipment and household items from the Bishop’s Court, while hoping that this year’s flooding would not be as devastating as that of 2012.
He also called on the Federal and Anambra State Governments to take concrete action to ameliorate the sufferings of the victims of flood this year by supplying relief materials to them .
Chairman of Ogbaru LGA, Awogu, who commended the Anambra state government for responding quickly by deploying relief materials to the internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the Council Area urged the people of Ogbaru not to be emotional about their homes but should relocate to designated camps to secure their lives.
He called on relevant Government agencies especially National Emergency Relief Agency, NEMA, to rise up to the challenges of the situations by translating their words into actions on the faith of the flood victims.
Riverine Anambra communities flee homes
Residents in most of the communities in Anambra States affected by this year’s flood have abandoned their homes for safety, while many moved into the IDP camps established by the state e government in many communities.
No fewer than 50 villages across the six Riverine local government areas have been flooded and all the farmlands submerged. The affected council are Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum, Ogbaru, Ihiala and Onitsha South.
Among communities that had been submerged include Atani, Osomala, Osuche, Okpoko, Ogwu Ikpele all in Ogbaru. Also flooded are Anam, Nzam, among others. In the affected communities, all schools and markets had been closed and crops harvested prematurely.
One of the major casualties is the Atani campus of the Federal Polytechnic. Already, the management of the Polytechnic has ordered immediate closure of the school till further notice. Also, the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano has directed residents of the affected communities to vacate immediately, assuming that the state government would provide for them at the various IDP camps.
Some of the affected persons have however, been lamenting their plight. A farmer, Mrs. Angela Okwuosa from Akili in Ogbaru said she lost most of the crops she planted to the flood.
“I borrowed money to buy the crops I planted and all of them were yet to mature before all my farms were submerged,” she lamented.
In Benue, Executive Secretary of SEMA, Mr. Emmanuel Shior, spoke, yesterday, shortly after an emergency meeting between the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Benue SEMA and stakeholders on emergency matters held in Makurdi said efforts were on to mitigate the effects of the looming disaster.
Shior said as at last Tuesday, the level of River Benue water had increased by 11 percent which had already put the state at risk of an impending flood.
He appealed to those residing at the River bank and flood plains to immediately evacuate to avoid the disaster being witnessed in other parts of the country and a repeat of the 2012 and 2017 flood disaster witnessed in the state.
He explained that as part of the pre-emptive measures to avert any form of disaster in the state, the state government had already put in place modalities to appropriately respond in the case of any eventuality.
He said: “Reports from officials of Cameroon indicated that the water in Lagdo dam is yet to be released but they may release the dam depending on the level of water there to avoid risking its facilities.
“Though the water at the dam has not been released but the level of water in River Benue is indicative of an impending flood and there is urgent need for speedy action on our part.
“Already we have taken all precautionary measures, including aggressive sensitization campaigners across the state to enlighten our people on the possibilities of the flood given the daily increase in the water level of River Benue.
“All hands are already on deck across the state with the support of Governor Samuel Ortom to ensure that we record minimal risks and damages when we eventual have the flooding in the state.”