•Anambra: 45 churches sacked; schools, markets evacuated; submerged crops prematurely harvested
•Kwara: Living inside water
•Expect more heavy rains, high water inflows, NEMA issues fresh alert after 108 die
As predicted, 12 states in the country (Kebbi, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Edo, Anambra, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Adamawa, Taraba and Benue) are experiencing severe flood, with four of them (Anambra, Delta, Kogi and Niger) declared National Disaster Areas by the Federal Government in view of the magnitude of the flood. The first part of the report was published last Sunday. Today we bring you situation reports from Anambra, Kwara and Adamawa states, as well as the efforts of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to ameliorate the disaster.
50 villages battle water
By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka
Reports from Anambra State say most of the residents of affected communities have abandoned their homes for safety. While many moved into Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps established by the state government, others joined friends and relations in the upland areas of the state.
At the last count, no fewer than 50 villages across the six riverine local government areas of the state, namely, Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum, Ogbaru, Onitsha South and Ihiala, have been flooded and farmlands submerged. Communities severely flooded include Atani, Osomala,Osuche,Okpoko, Ogwu Ikpele, Obeagwe, all in Ogbaru. Also flooded are Anam, Nzam, Umudora, Oroma Etiti, Umueme, Umueze, Umuoba, Iyiora, Olumbanasa, Ukwala. In the affected communities, all schools and markets have been closed and crops harvested prematurely.
The Mbamili Diocese of the Anglican Church says it lost 45 of its churches to the flood, including the Cathedral Church of St. Michael in the area. Bishop of the Diocese, Rt. Rev Henry Okeke, said most of his parish priests have been forced to relocate to safe areas, with some going to their villages. The Bishop’s official residence and his offices have also been submerged.
In Ogbaru local government area, some of the major casualties are the Atani campus of the Federal Polytechnic, the Naval Base, the Divisional Police Station and the Anglican Cathedral Church in the town. Access roads to the Federal Polytechnic, fields, offices and classrooms were all flooded, with the students having challenges in accessing their classrooms. The institution’s perimeter fencing, electric transformer and generators were also submerged, resulting in total blackout. Villagers were seen using canoes to pass through the school compound to the neighbouring communities. Also, household appliances and personal belongings of students, including text books, were destroyed by the flood.
The management of the Federal Polytechnic ordered the closure of the school. The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the institution, Mr. Obini Onuchukwu, said students were asked to stay away from the campus for one week to see if the flood would recede, adding that the directive was in the best interest of students to avoid any form of casualty. According to him, the emergency holiday might, however, be extended beyond one week if the flood did not recede, explaining that the absence of students on campus would enable management carry out some work to salvage the situation.
Onuchukwu said: “We experience this almost on yearly basis, but this year’s flood is overwhelming. Apart from the campus, hostels belonging to individuals where our students stay are also submerged, making it impossible for any reasonable academic activity to take place.
“We had earlier put some measures in place and cleared some flood, but this year’s flood came in a way we did not expect. But we thank God that so far there is no human casualty. We are using this opportunity to call for federal and state governments’ interventions to enable us address the issue and be able to reopen when the flood reduces.”
The spokesperson, who expressed shock over the magnitude of the flood, attributed it to lack of proper drainage within the host community, recalling that in 2012, a similar experience also disrupted academic activities in the institution for several months. While commending the efforts of NEMA and the State Emergency Maintenance Agency (SEMA) in handling the situation across the country, he called for assistance for the polytechnic to ensure early resumption of academic activities.
Governor Willie Obiano meanwhile directed residents of affected communities to vacate immediately their homes, assuring that the Anambra government would provide for them at the various IDP camps, although many people were reluctant to move into the camps.
When Vice President Yemi Osinbajo visited some of the flood- ravaged parts of the state penultimate Wednesday, Obiano and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who is a native of Anambra, took him round some of the affected areas, with the Vice President pledging Federal Government’s assistance to affected communities.
“I flew over the disaster areas and I witnessed the rise, especially in Onitsha, Ogbaru, Awka North, Coscharis farm and other places. We have directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to continue deploying relief materials to the various IDP camps and some home settlements that have refused to vacate from their homes,” Osinbajo said.
The traditional ruler of Aguleri, Igwe Christopher Idigo, solicited assistance that would provide a lasting solution to the problem of flood, noting that building dams in the flood –prone areas would help to absorb water from River Benue and River Niger.
Some of the victims have, however, been lamenting their plight. A farmer, Mrs. Angela Okwuosa, from Akili in Ogbaru, said she lost most of the crops she had 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. She said that those who borrowed the money to her were already on her neck and called on government to come to her assistance.
Mr. Gregory Muoka, another farmer, but at Ogbakuba, said while he had relocated with his entire household, he was thinking of what to do once the flood receded. He said: “As I speak with you, my house, which was submerged in August, has fallen completely and all my property fell with it. All the crops I set aside for planting next season were washed away by the flood and there is nobody to assist me. I hope government officials who are flying in the air around us will also remember to come to our aid.”
Why we won’t quit even if flood is huge — Residents
By DEMOLA AKINYEMI
Kwara State is not new to flood. That is why the state is listed among those to experience flood this year.
Earlier in the month, six communities in Moro local government area of the state were taken over by flood after River Niger overflowed. Affected communities include Fangan, Ipata-Jebba, Elebu, Budo-Ode and Lanwa all close to the river bank, leaving many houses submerged.
The flood, which also washed away farms in the communities, left many residents with food and shelter crises.
The Chairman of the LGA, Saka Eleyele, who, after touring affected communities presented some food items to the victims to relieve them of their troubles, called on the state government to come to the aid of victims.
Eleyele urged the state government to urgently repair a bridge linking Elebu with many other communities in the LGA which has partially been broken by the flood.
A team of meteorologists which also toured the affected communities restated the warning that people in flood prone areas should relocate.
Head of the team, Daniel Okafor, said a large quantity of water had been released from a Cameroon dam which may soon flow to Nigeria and worsen flood situation in the country.
Also, property worth millions of naira was lost to flood caused by downpour in parts of Ilorin metropolis, Kwara State capital.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the rain, which started at about 8:00pm, poured intermittently till the early hours of the following day.
Affected areas include Harmony Estate, Akerebiata, Gerin Alimi, Isale Koko and Kulende.
It was gathered that the flood swept many vehicles, several metres away, from where they were parked in some areas.
Among affected victims of the flood were concrete block makers and traders who had outlets along the roads and selling such items as bagged food items, tailoring materials and household items.
It was also gathered that chillers, used in refrigerating drinks by soft drink shop owners, were destroyed by the rain that entered their shops.
Residents of the affected areas said that effect of the flood was more pronounced due to narrow drainages, which they said quickly filled up by the downpour, thus flooding homes and shops.
Meanwhile, the state government has restated its warning that communities close to rivers and which are prone to flood should relocate to safer places.
SEMA boss, Abdulrasaq Jimoh, who, on behalf of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, toured affected communities, while sympathising with victims, said the federal and state governments had repeatedly warned that residents of flood prone areas should relocate to avoid disaster.
He also called on residents of riverine communities in Lafiagi, Patigi, Jebba and other flood-prone areas in Kwara to immediately relocate.
According to him, Kainji and Jebba dams were already spilling water downstream while the level of water in Lokoja had exceeded the corresponding value in the affected areas.
But the position expressed by many residents of Ilorin metropolis is that the amount of rainfall in the state was not enough to cause the high level of flood being experienced in many parts of the state.
The residents blamed the flood occasioned by downpour on narrow, shallow drainages and absence of it in many areas.
An NGO based in Ilorin, Organization for the Sustenance of the Nigerian Environment, also blamed the town planning unit of the state and local governments for being major part of the flood crisis.
The state coordinator, Angela Oloye, told Sunday Vanguard that indiscriminate building on water ways was a major contributory factor, stressing that if the government agency had been proactive, flood in the state would have been nothing to worry about.
It was reliably gathered that some victims of flood were unwilling to relocate, particularly those in Kwara North, because of their traditional and cultural attachment to their homes regardless of the tragedy.
NEMA issues fresh flood alert after 108 die, 141, 000 displaced
By Bose Adelaja
Meanwhile, NEMA, says no fewer than 141,369 Nigerians have been displaced since flooding began in 2018.
Out of the figure, 80,462 are living with families and relatives, 108 dead while 192 are injured.
NEMA Director-General, Engineer Mustapha Maihajja, who disclosed this to Sunday Vanguard, last week, said, so far, 50 LGAs have been affected, eight states on red alert while four are on National Disaster Declaration.
Agricultural land affected was put at 122,653 hectares.
The states on red alert, according to the NEMA boss, remain Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Edo, Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Anambra, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa.
The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, NIHSA, had, in August, alerted Nigerians about imminent flood and called for precautionary measures.
Weeks after, Nigerians began to experience heavy rainfall and water surge from neighbouring countries flowing into Nigerian waters which consistently increased water levels such that communities around river banks were sacked.
The surge was first noticed on Rivers Niger and Benue where communities around were sacked.
Later, Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro dams overflowed and flooded neighbouring communities, culminating in the steady rise of water levels as hydrological results analysed the confluence area in Lokoja to be at the height of 11.05m as against the value of 10.29m as of September 17, 2012 when flood on huge destructive scale last happened in Nigeria.
The prediction of NEMA, which said 12 states and 50 LGAs will likely be overrun by flood, tallied with NIHSA’s. It was predicted that Anambra, Delta, Kogi and Niger states will be worst hit.
As of the time of this report, officials said 441,251 people had been affected by the flooding although the Federal Government promised to alleviate the situation.
Maihajja and VP Osinbajo have been visiting the tragic scenes and IDP camps to empathise with the communities and displaced persons.
A chat with the NEMA boss revealed that some people have been evacuated in Anambra, Niger and Taraba states to higher grounds.
According to him, the problem started around September 14 but National Disaster Declaration was made on September 17 after a village, Mallaville, in Benin Republic, was flooded and water began to flow into Kebbi and Niger states.
According to him, the agency convened emergency coordination meetings on Saturday, September 15 with the deployment of Emergency Coordination Personnel to the affected communities. He said, “At the meeting, stakeholders were informed that Malanville town in Benin Republic had been flooded. This means that the flood will flow down to Nigeria through Kebbi.
“The effect of this is that both Kainji and Jebba dams will continue to spill water downstream, a pointer to the fact that all the indices that caused the 2012 river flooding have manifested, except spillage of water from the Lagdo Dam,”
Reacting to the NiMet’s 2018 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) released earlier in the year, the DG said, “Sept 28 is the earliest cessation date of rainfall in Sokoto and Katsina while December is the earliest cessation date for the southern coastal cities.
“The implication is that the northern part of the country should be expecting more rains in the next two weeks. High flows are still coming in from the upper catchment of the Niger Basin, namely, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Chad”.
As of last Thursday, reports from across the country revealed that River Benue is equally rising, though the water level has not attained the level witnessed in 2012 just as the NEMA boss said the rise in water level in River Benue should not be attributed to the release of water from the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.
Maihajja said that in managing the situation, Nigeria and Cameroon should collaborate to proffer a lasting solution. “With this, Cameroon is bound to notify Nigeria ahead of time in the event that the Dam must be opened”, the DG said.
He went further to state that rainfall is still expected within the catchment of the Lagdo Dam up to early October 2018.
“It should be noted that there are many active rivers downstream the Lagdo Dam which contribute heavy inflows into River Benue, namely: Faro, Mayo Kebbi, Taraba, Gongola, Katsina-Ala, Donga and Dep”, he stated.
“The water surge into River Benue, leading to flooding of the Benue valley is often mistaken for the release of water from the Lagdo Dam.
“The localized urban flooding incidents being witnessed in some cities and communities in the country are expected to continue due to high rainfall intensity of longer duration, rainstorms, blockage of drainage systems and poor urban planning, as well as coastal flooding resulting from sea rise and storm surges”.
He admonished all states to join hands with NEMA in order to put the situation under control.
His words: “State and local governments should dislodge structures built within the floodplains, clear blocked drainages, culverts and other waterways. In the light of the above, the following states that are contiguous to Rivers Niger and Benue should step up their efforts in evacuation of persons from communities already affected by river flooding: Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Kogi, Edo, Anambra, Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa”.
In response to the disaster, the NEMA boss said the agency had established five EOCs – Emergency Operations’ Centres – to cover critical areas: Group A to cover Kebbi, Niger and Kwara, Group B to cover Kogi and Edo, Group C to cover Benue, Taraba and Adamawa, Group D to cover Anambra and Delta while Group E covers Rivers and Bayelsa.
The EOCs comprise of stakeholders, especially Federal Ministries of Health, Water Resources, Works and other relevant bodies as well as selected states.
According to him, all the 70 Military Disaster Response Units across the country have been put on red alert.
The following are identified needs across the affected states: Shelter, relief items, food, hygiene kits, medication and mosquito nets as responders are requesting for speed boats to reach affected communities and GPS for mapping.
The Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation, on its part, is said to be supporting locations where they have built permanent shelters.
On finance, Maihajja claimed that N12, 136, 954, 359. 60b is required to provide aid but said only N3b was available, meaning that a total of N9, 136, 954, 359. 60b is unmet.
Water, water, water everywhere; overruns Adamawa
By Umar Yusuf, Yola
On August 18, the Cameroonian authorities alerted Nigeria that its stock of waters in their dam had become unbearable.
The authorities therefore indicated its readiness to release the excess waters to save the dam form imminent collapse.
The Cameroonian government maintained that if the dam was allowed to collapse, the consequences will be worse than the 2012 flood that ravaged over 20 states in Nigeria, leading to the death of no fewer than 200 people and destroyed properties worth billions of Naira.
Even before the alert was raised, waters had started coming as most of the riverine communities in Adamawa had been submerged and villagers counting their losses from flood occasioned by the overflow of River Benue.
Yola North, Yola South, Shelleng, Fufore, Demsa, Lamurde, Numan and Guyuk LGAs among others in Taraba and Gombe had been submerged by the advancing waters.
Now that waters from the excess in the Cameroonian Lagdo Dam have been released and they flow downwards, the aftermath is destruction of lives, properties, houses, farmlands and livestock among other cherished valuables of the rural dwellers.
When the alert from Cameroon over the release of waters was conveyed to the Adamawa authorities, the message was equally transmitted to the people to enable move to safer places in order not to be caught unawares by the impending flood.
Sensitization, public enlightenment and mobilization by government and its agencies took the centre stage, but the communities were adamant. They were not ready to relocate. Some of the villagers believe it is taboo to relocate from their ancestral homes except through death.
Government had no alternative than to start preparing for the alternative of mobilising for relief materials.
Now that the flood is here with the villagers’ crying following the magnitude of the destruction, government is rising to the occasion.
Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency (ADSEMA) declared that the flood has so far killed 10 persons and displaced scores of others.
Dr Muhammed Suleiman, the Executive Secretary of the agency, disclosed that almost all the riverine LGAs in the Central and Southern senatorial zones had been submerged by flood.
Suleiman said that hundreds of domestic animals, including cattle, were also lost.
He said that the deaths recorded were particularly from Yola South, Guyuk, Lamurde and Song LGAs.
“Also, hectares of farmlands, especially in nine local government areas located at the bank of River Benue, have been submerged,” Suleiman said.
According to him, the flood was also posing serious challenge to farming activities in the state.
“It could be a threat to food security”, he added.