By Dayo Johnson
IT was a tale of woes, anguish and sorrow across three communities in Akoko North East and Akoko South West in Ondo State as rainfall of over one hour rendered about a thousand people homeless.
Owners of the ageing houses watched in anguish as the rainstorm forcefully removed the rooftops of their houses and deposited them few metres away.
The affected communities include Ikare Akoko, Supare Akoko and Ugbe Akoko.
The devastation was unprecedented across the state.
Victims of the devastation narrated their traumatised experiences after the incident.
Many of the victims have relocated to neighbouring communities where they have families, while others squat with sympathisers in the community whose houses were not affected.
They called on the state government and other government intervention agencies for lifelines.
As at the last count, reports had it that houses affected in Supare, which was worse hit, has over 500 houses while Ikare recorded 300 houses whose rooftops were blown off and 200 other houses suffered a similar fate in Ugbe Akoko courtesy of the downpour which was accompanied by a whirlwind.
Other structures that were pulled down include worship centres, police stations, electric poles, internet masts, billboards amongst others.
I don’t want to die homeless— Centenarian
Narrating his ordeal, a 101-year-old man, who was a victim in Supare, Akoko, Pa Akin Ogunyebi described it as pitiable.
His house, a bungalow, was destroyed by the rainstorm.
Pa Ogunyebi, a centenarian, who stays alone in the house before it was damaged, told Vanguard that “The rainstorm destroyed my house. My box where I keep my valuables and clothes was destroyed by the rainstorm. I am very sad and angry. The rain has not been fair to me. Where do I go now? I don’t want to die homeless. There is no one to help me now. My wife died some years ago.
“None of my children lives in the town. I am the only one staying in this house and my children are not around. I lost one of a few years ago
“I am pleading with the government and other well-meaning people to come to my aid so that I will not be homeless at my age. I have lost my wife some years ago and I do not want to die homeless.”
My family and I now sleep outside —Umar
Another victim, a pensioner, Abudu Umar in Afin Akoko also had his house affected by the rainstorm.
Lamenting his ordeal, Mr Umar said his family now sleeps outside their damaged building.
Umar, 69 years, retired from the local government service eight years ago, after serving for 25 years.
He is yet to be paid his gratuities by the State Government.
He said: “For over nine years that I retired, my gratuity is still unpaid by the state government making life miserable for me and my family.
“As I am talking presently, my family and I have been squatting with my friends and sometimes sleep outside our damaged building. Since the incidence, we have not been able to stay in our house and there is no money to repair the building because I cannot afford the high cost of building materials now.
“That is why I am appealing to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to order the immediate payment of my gratuity to enable me to put the house back in good shape.”
My machines have been destroyed—Murtala, physically challenged
The rainstorm equally affected the house of a physically challenged man, Balogun Murtala in Supare.
Speaking with Vanguard, Murtala said: “I am a fashion designer and my machines have been destroyed including clothes given to me by customers. As a physically challenged person, it has been tough since this incident.
“We are waiting for the government to assist us to help us live well again.”
Speaking on the havoc caused by the rainstorm, the traditional ruler of Supare Akoko land, the Olu of Supare land, Oba Adejoro Adedeji said: “It was a terrible storm that affected many houses here.
“It has never happened since assumed the throne of my forefathers. Over 80 houses were affected including electric poles and other valuables.
If we are to cost the effect of the damages, it will amount to several millions of naira.”
In his appeal to the government, he said: “We have written to the state governor for assistance, we have written to our House of Representatives Members at the national assembly. Some of them have sent a team to inspect the houses. The deputy governor visited here to inspect the level of damage done and hopefully, the state government will do something.”
We’ll cushion effects of the incident—Ondo govt
The Ondo State government has pledged to cushion the effects of the incident.
Meanwhile, the state government has sent relief materials to the affected communities to cushion their plights.
The Deputy Governor, Mr Agboola Ajayi, who paid a visit to the affected communities during the week, described the incident as a clear case of a natural disaster.
Ajayi said: “The state officials of the National Emergency Management Agency are already in the affected communities to ascertain the damage caused by the rainstorm so as to ameliorate the plights of the victims.”