Floods Return With Fury, Spread to New Areas
Like last year, flood is back causing nightmare in some parts of the Nigeria as several communities and villages have been completely washed away or submerged by terrible floods in the last one week.
For Nigerians, flooding has become an endless nightmare in most communities. The latest floods have left in its trail deaths, sorrows, massive destruction of property and farmlands as well as displacement of people in the affected areas.
Investigations indicate that several houses were submerged by floods in Kaduna last Wednesday, following a heavy rain, which lasted for hours, precisely from Tuesday night to Wednesday noon.
Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Ishaku Dogo Makama said on-the-spot assessment conducted by officials of the agency revealed that seven persons were drowned in a river at Galadima village in Giwa LGA of the state.
Makama also said in Birnin Gwari Local Government Area, seven persons were injured, while in Kubau, almost 10 villages were affected.
The agency noted with concern that the latest flooding did not only affect houses close to rivers or along water ways, but stretched to even far-flung areas with poor drainage systems. But a later assessment by the same agency confirmed that about 10 LGAs have been affected, as it added that the number might possibly increase.
“We are still counting and making assessment of the affected houses. But I can confirm that the flood affected 10 LGAs of the state,” Makama said
Some of the affected communities include Romi, Karatudu, Gonin Gora, Ungwar Juji, U/Pama, U/Yelwa, U/Barde, Hayin Katapawa, Trikania, Sabo, Ungwar Boro, Narayi, Bayan-Dutse and Kamazou among others in Chikun Local Government Area. Also the 10 LGAs affected by the flood include Jema’a, Sanga, Kagarko, Chikun, Birnin-Gwari, Igabi, Kubau, Giwa, Kaduna South and Kachia.
Weekly Trust also gathered that communities hard hit by the flooding disaster are Jama’a, Sanga, Kagarko, Chikun, Birnin Gwari, Igabi, Kubau, Kachia, Giwa and Kaduna South Local Government Area, which were reportedly submerged by water and some houses washed away by the flood.
In Kamazou in Chikun LGA, over 10 houses were submerged by the flood. Though residents in the area disclosed that water usually gather in the area during rainy season, but has never submerged any house. They lamented that it was the first time flooding is experienced in such high magnitude, especially after the construction of the Yakowa Express Way.
It was further observed that some of the houses affected were both completed and uncompleted ones, but with no occupants, while scores of the houses also had people living in them. Majority of the victims of the flood, however, claimed ignorance of water passing through the area and also failed to heed government warnings to the effect that people should vacate flood prone areas.
A victim of the floods, Mrs. Grace Ojo narrated amidst tears that they noticed water coming gradually on Tuesday night when it started raining. She said they immediately started raising their belongings to upper platforms, thinking the water would not reach such levels, but it later overpowered the efforts and swallowed the houses.
“We packed into this house after building it on October 1, 2012. And we have never experienced flood since we came in until now. Myself, my husband and our three children were able to run out of the house, but we couldn’t pick any of our belongings. In fact, the cloth I am wearing now belongs to my neighbor,” she sobbed.
A landlord and fish farmer, Sunday Daudu who was also affected, said the water started flowing into the area around 1.30am on Wednesday. Daudu who has lived in the area for about three years, said it was the first time he is experiencing flooding in the area, explaining that when he bought the land, he never knew water would pass through it.
Dauda, the father of six said, he lost most of his belongings to the flood including over 6,000 fishes in his pond. “Each section of the fish pond can take 2,000 fishes and I have four sections in the pond, I have lost all the fishes to the flood.”
Alisabatu, whose four-room building collapsed as a result of the floods thanked God that though she lost almost all her belongings to the flood, nobody got stucked in the collapsed building. “We all ran out before the building collapsed, but majority of our belongings were trapped,” she said.
She, however, called on government to come to her aid, noting that she has nowhere to go with her children.
According to the SEMA boss, the agency has gone round to assess the situation and sympathize with victims, noting that the Deputy Governor of the state, Ambassador Nuhu Audu Bajoga has also gone round to see things for himself.
“We have sent to him a request on how we can assist the victims, we have also identified some of the schools where the victims are taking refuge, we are going to assist them,” he said.
However, Amb. Bajoga, who also visited some of the affected LGAs, pledged government commitment to provide succour to the affected victims, as he directed the SEMA to provide relief materials immediately to the affected communities and appealed to residents to be patient.
But while relief from the SEMA is being awaited, the NEMA has so far distributed relief materials to some of the victims of the floods.
Also in Jos, capital of Plateau State, victims of the recent flooding have similar pathetic tales, like the affected people in Kaduna.
“When the rain started about 2.30 pm Friday, September 6, this year, we thought it was just another rain,” Emmanuel Obiako, a resident of Alama Link in the Rock Haven area of Jos, told Weekly Trust.
It is observed that Rock Haven is one of the communities in the Jos metropolitan city, badly hit by the flooding caused by hours of a downpour on the said day. It was a rainfall that caused much human and vehicular traffic logjam and wrecked havoc in many homes in parts of the city.
Recalling the incident as it affected his father’s household, Emmanuel said “I was in my room when within 25 minutes of the rain; I heard a big bang outside. The sound was alarmingly loud and I rushed out to the front of the house and was confronted by the sight of a huge body of water that had already crashed down our fence and made for the house. I raced back towards the house to close the entrance door, but the water swept past me and poured into the house before I could reach the door.”
Emmanuel said the house was immediately filled with the muddy, brown water which flowed in from the shallow river beside the house.
The Obiako family house where Emmanuel lives is a four-year old two-storey building, which was fenced round with blocks and adorned with flowers. “How I wish you came the day of the flood,” Emmanuel told Weekly Trust, adding that “the whole house and the entire surrounding was a sea of dirty water that reached our waist as we practically had to swim around the house long after the rain stopped. Later on, we had to hire labourers to clear the mess inside and outside. It is because we have been doing a lot of clearing up that this place now looks clean.”
He said they lost electronics, furniture, documents and other valuables the water soaked. “The flood was massive. We’ve had incidents of flooding before but this was unprecedented for us here. The raging waves of water came suddenly and we had no time to remove anything. Water entered everywhere – our TVs, decoders, boxes of clothes, everywhere and everything – our luck that day was that we didn’t park any of our cars around the house as we normally do. A neigbour’s car was carried away and badly dented car by the time it was found far out of the house where a NEPA poll held it down.”
Compared to the Obiakos, their neighbours immediately behind them, suffered a more effect of the flooding. The neighbours’ three-bedroom apartment was reduced to a one-room self-contained apartment, because the other one room, toilet and bathrooms caved into the floods, while the other rooms of the house and the big sitting room have become inhabitable, and the entire family now crams into the single room the flood spared.
A daughter in the house, Thelma Obi, told Weekly Trust that “the flood has disorganized us badly, we feel so incomplete and insecure. Insecure because although the walls have not collapsed, but the walls of parts of the house still standing are badly cracked and the whole house could come down unless something is done before long to rebuild the broken parts and mend the cracked walls. And that’s a lot of work to be done.”
Thelma said, however, that there was something to thank God as “we’ve lost things and are left with a badly damaged house, but we are alive. It is our hope, however, that government will do something to help us, because to put this house back together will be almost like building a new one.”
The young lady also appealed to government to expand the waterways. “This thing happens yearly, but this year’s was far too much. Unless the river route is expanded to create enough room for rain water to pass freely, this flooding could recur here or anywhere soon.”
The tales from people in Angwan Rogo, the neighbouring community of the University of Jos, are similar to those in other parts of Jos. One Khalid Abdullahi whose house was at the edge of the river that passes through the community, said a heavy rain begun around 1.30 pm and flushed all manner of mud into his house.
Abdullahi told Weekly Trust that “it came from the small river behind my house; and immediately we noticed it, we rushed to evacuate the children and women to a nearby house for their safety. Later, I and my neighbour who was also around when the incident occurred, went back to see how we could rescue some of our property.”
He said no life was lost and his building did not collapse, but decried that “just last week, we experienced a fire incident which burnt down many of our household items and the flood actually came to wash what remained of our property. Many of my neighbours lost most of their belongings.”
Abdullahi claimed they were not aware of warnings on impending floods from any quarters. “We did not hear any warning about the flood in our area, and if you look at the waterway that passes behind our house, government could rebuild it for the water to pass freely. I don’t know whether it is because of the Jos crisis, which segregates the city as some officials of government don’t want to enter Angwan Rogo, but to the best of my knowledge, no government official or organization came here to sensitize us about the flood. The only time I saw officials in our place was during last year’s flood when the Red Cross came and distributed relief materials,” he said.
Weekly Trust learnt that despite the victims’ denials of knowledge of warnings on impending floods, both the government of Plateau State and the North Central Zonal office of the NEMA had sensitized people of the state on warnings of possible flooding this year. It also urged people living close to or on water ways to either vacate such places completely or move out temporarily to safer neighbourhoods in the peak of the rain months of July through September.
Weekly Trust learnt there has also been much media campaign against blocking water ways with wastes and the state government has been working through the Ministry of Environment, as it cleared some of the waterways to free the passage of water.
But joyfully too, the Jos flood disaster has neither any report of loss of life nor missing persons. The Public Relations officer of NEMA, North Central Zone, Yohana Audu, said yesterday that from its assessment of the flood throughout Plateau State, there was neither death nor report of missing persons.
Neither NEMA nor the government of Plateau State has however presented relief materials to the affected persons.
But the Plateau State Government disclosed last Thursday that only 16 houses were ‘affected’ while 408 persons were displaced by the flood in parts of Jos last weekend.
In a mailed statement to Weekly Trust, Yiljab Abraham said while household items, furniture, food stuff and poultry were affected, no deaths were recorded.
Abraham stated: “flooding was experienced in some parts of the city – Rikkos, Ungwan Rogo, Apata, Ungwan Suya and Utan. The SEMA carried out an assessment and came up with the following facts: houses affected, 16 families affected, 111 and the displaced – 408.”
He said the government has undertaken needs assessment of those affected and would come to their aid with food items, beddings and building materials, among other things.
Similarly, in the Edim Otop neighbourhood near Atimbo community in Calabar hosting about 3,000 people, fresh floods last week have caused grief and sorrow to many families, especially to Mr. Amos Akaninyene Ebong, aged 40. The floods caused the death of his pregnant wife, two little children, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and two visitors. Also, his personal house, life savings, and household property were all consumed by the flood in a split minute. He is now faced with the onerous task of burying the retinue of dead family members.
Ebong’s trauma is caused by last week Wednesday’s five-hour torrential downpour in Calabar, which in its wake left multiple deaths.
Ebong from Obio Ediene in Ikono Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, recounted that “I was at home with the children when this thing happened. My wife and her mother just returned from the church that particular moment. As soon as they entered the house, the rain and the flood became very serious. And that very moment the house caved in and collapsed on them, all but I was very lucky that much of it did not fall on me. On the day of this unfortunate incident, I became very unconscious, though I could see hundreds of people milling around. I saw several men in uniform. I was out of this world. But should it have left me alive? It should have killed me alongside them.”
Amos continued: “I feel very terrible. My entire family perished during the last flood. I wish I had died alongside my wife and children and the other six persons. I feel very sad. I have lost all my life savings, my property. I have not had any help; I need help of any kind. It is not true that Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State sent his commissioners to come and donate relief and other building materials. It is absolutely incorrect. You can ask my neighbours here. I have not received even one bag of cement or ten Naira.”
Amos said he has been able to bury his three children, but others are still in the Calabar General Hospital mortuary, adding that he is worried about the increasing daily cost of mortuary bill.
“I need help to be able to defray this and other attendant debts. Presently, I do not even have money to feed. I have appealed to government. I have even called Senator Aloysius Etuk’s number in vain. He is my family relation,” he said.
His brother-in-law, Friday Okon Umoh said “powerful flood water descended from the hills, uprooted nearby palm trees and these fell on my brother’s collapsing house where it killed the eight people, including my sister with pregnancy. As I speak, two women and one baby are still lying critically at the General Hospital in Calabar. The impact has been very terrible.”
However, the Cross River State Coordinator of National Environmental Standards and Regulations Agency (NESREA), Mr. Raph Nnam attributed the flooding to several reasons, saying failure to comply with town planning stipulations caused the problem.
“Our findings at the riverine areas are that there were lots of irregularities. There is no access for any means of transportation into that site; no utility or building lines and as a result no drainages. The people do not care for their lives for preferring to dwell at such a dangerous place. The terrain is extremely terrible,” he said.
However, despite claims by government, the affected people are lamenting that no assistance has been extended to them by Governor Imoke and SEMA, as Ebong denied that not even one nail or kobo has reached him!