Fear spreads in flood-prone areas as Sept rains loom
Lagos must prepare for heavy rainfall, flooding, says NEMA65 erosion sites threaten Abia, Cross River already floodedSamson Folarin, Adelani Adepegba, Okechukwu Nnodim, Sunday Nwakanma, Godwin Isenyo, Ada Wodu, John Charles, Raphael Ede, Samson Folarin, Itode Samson, Raphael Ede, John Charles and James Abraham
Some residents of flood-prone states across the country are now living in fear following the 2019 Annual Flood Outlook in Abuja released on August 7 by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency.NIHSA had placed 15 states on the red alert asking their residents to get prepared for massive flooding while the affected state governments should put strategies in place to save their people from the impending disaster.
The states to be affected by the looming flood, according to the Director-General of NIHSA, Mr Clement Eze, are Cross River, Oyo, Enugu, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger, Lagos, Edo, Imo, Abia, Jigawa, Adamawa, Delta, Rivers and Bauchi as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
“River flooding as well as coastal flooding is expected to come into place as the nation approaches the peak of the rainy season,” he said while giving the 2019 Annual Flood Outlook in Abuja on August 7.He said the agency had been sustaining the AFO in order to prevent a recurrence of the 2012 flood disaster where scores of people were killed and properties worth millions of naira were destroyed.
This year’s flood, he said, could be catastrophic because “flood from the upper reaches of the Niger Basin comprising Guinea, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Chad and Cameroon will be coming to Nigeria in about a month’s time.”In spite of this warning, however, checks in some of the 15 states by our correspondents show that little or nothing is being done to prepare against the impending flood.
However, some state governments are only asking the people living in flood-prone areas to vacate such communities.But while some residents are heeding this warning, others are not. They claim they have no money to rent new apartments. But majority are expressing fear that they could lose all they have laboured for if the state governments fail to mitigate the effect of the impending flood.
They are trusting God to protect them as the September flooding approaches.Kaduna residents shun relocation warning, ask El-Rufai to dredge riverIn Kaduna State, it was discovered that despite warnings of imminent floods in some areas of the state, residents of Kigo Road New Extension, Kotangora Estate, parts of Ungwan-Rimi, all in Kaduna North and South Local Government Areas of the state, were unperturbed.
They (residents) are still living as though there are no warnings. One of our correspondents, who visited areas close to the Kaduna River bank, saw residents going about their normal business; some literally resigning to fate.According to a resident of Kotangora Estate, in Barnawa area of the state, Mr Saidu Yusuf, there is no preparation to relocate the people living close to the river.
He lamented that if the Nasir-el-Rufai government had done its own beat, the perennial flooding in the area would have ended.He said the government should have long before now dredged the river while calling on neighbours especially those close to the river bank to be on the look out for the rains.
READ ALSO:Bayelsa appointees collected N859.540m in two monthsYusuf said, “The major problem of this area is not the flooding but the inability of the government to dredge the river. If the government had dredged the river, the problem would have long become a thing of the past. So, what we expect the government to do, is that during the dry season, they should take the initiative to dredge the river.”
On his part, the Chairman of the Kotangora Estate Residents Association, Mr Victor Olushola, lamented how floods had ravaged the area in the past.Olushola said, “We are aware of the flood alerts but the government has not really done well in terms of sensitisation. We have resolved that we shall accommodate our neighbours living close to the river if there is flooding.
“We are equally encouraging our neighbours close to the river to move their property to the houses of those that are safe from the flood in case it happens.”No money to relocate, says residentsBut Okechukwu David, a resident of Kigo Road New Extension, another flood – prone area in the state, said relocating remained a pipe dream due to the current economic hardship in the country.
He said, “Where do I get the money to relocate? Flood is an annual ritual for us here. It will come and go. We have been experiencing this for many years. God will protect us.”But as of the time of writing this report, government appeared not to have plans to dredge the river before September.
An official of the Kaduna State Environmental Protection Agency, who pleaded anonymity, told The PUNCH that there was no way the government could dredge the river before September.He advised residents living in flood-prone areas to dispose of waste in hygienic manner.
The state Commissioner for Environment, Mr Ibrahim Husseini, had alerted residents close to the Kaduna River to an imminent flood and directed them to vacate the area.Flooding already in Cross River–VictimIn Cross River State, residents have even been suffering from the effect of flood when the predicted September flooding has not even started.
One of the victims of the recent flooding in the state, Inyang Akak, who resides on Archibong Ika Street behind the Cross River University of Technology staff quarters in Calabar South, narrated his harrowing experience after a downpour recently.He said, “It was indeed a serious calamity that befell me. I was at work when the fence caved in as a result of accumulated pressure of the flooding. I lost most of my belongings especially books and personal effects.”
Despite the warning that flooding might still occur in the weeks ahead, he said he had resigned himself to fate since he did not have money to rent a new apartment.However, the acting Director-General of SEMA, Princewill Anyim, said “structural and non structural steps” were being taken to prevent flooding in the wake of the warning by NIHSA.
Flood warning forces Rivers resident to fleeHowever, residents of Nkpolu community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State have started fleeing their homes over fear of being caught in the predicted impending flooding by NIHSA.Stating the preparedness of Nkpolu community in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State towards the impending flooding, the Chairman, Community Development Association of the community, Achinike Orugbuogwu, said some residents of his community had fled the area.
He added that though the CDA wrote the state SUBEB to allow the community to use a section of the primary school as a camp for the impending flood victims, “they turned down our request and asked us to look for somewhere else.”He said the residents were living in fears because thousands of Nkpolu community residents were sacked by flood in 2018.
When contacted to speak on the efforts being made by the state government to mitigate the effect of the predicted flooding, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Paulinus Nsirim, said the government had scheduled a meeting for Wednesday to discuss strategies it would employ to tackle the impending flood crisis.
Government should provide safer place for us–Benue residentsHowever, the people living around flood-prone areas in Makurdi, Benue State may have resigned themselves to fate despite the warning given by the state government that they should vacate the areas.
One of our correspondents, who visited Wadata, Wurukum and the bank of the River Benue, observed that residents of the affected areas were not taking the threat of possible flood with seriousness.According to Madam Aisha, the flood alert is not a problem to her.
She said, “We are used to flood in this area and the state government has been telling us to relocate but where are we relocating to? If the state government provides a place for us, we will gladly move to the place, until then we will wait to see the flood.”
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE:Obasanjo expresses concern about division among Yoruba monarchsWhen one of our correspondents visited the bank of River Benue, it was observed that the volume of water was steadily rising sending ominous signs of imminent flood.A community leader in Wadata, Alhaji Aliyu Shaban, said that residents of the community had decided to assist in evacuating the dirt from culverts for easy flow of water.
But the General Manager, Benue State Urban Development Board, Rev. Saint Gbileka, told one of our correspondents that government had identified some structures erected on floodplains, adding that such buildings would be demolished.Gbileka maintained that his office had put every necessary mechanism in place to carry out demolition of such buildings and clear the drains for free passage of water at various flood-prone areas particularly around Gboko Road, North Bank area and Wadata axis.
The state Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment, Dodo Ahire, added that government was putting necessary measures in place to address the drainage system in the state and called on those living in the flood-prone areas to relocate.Enugu communities relocate to safer places, seek govt help
However, some residents of Ngenanwanta – Ezinesi and Ohofia both in Oduma Town in Aninri Local Government Area of Enugu State have started relocating from their houses after the flood warning alert.Some residents of the two communities who spoke to The PUNCH lamented the pain flooding had caused the community in the past.
At Ohofia, the residents told The PUNCH how two people got drowned during the 2017 and 2018 flooding disasters at Attah River.The leader of the community, Moses Onyeabor, who conducted one of our correspondents round the houses where the occupants had abandoned and relocated to safer area, said they left because of the horrible experiences they faced in the past due to flooding.
He said that he and over 20 families had abandoned their houses and relocated to safer places since Attah River had overflown its bank.“The government should dredge Attah River so that we will have a very good bridge” he said.Another resident, Bishop Nwigwe Njoku, told The PUNCH that he could not abandon his house because, he had no building elsewhere to relocate to.
No sign Lagos is prepared for the looming flood–ResidentsIn Lagos State, some residents of the flood-prone areas have disagreed with the government over preparations being made to mitigate the impending flooding in September.While a community leader in Ikorodu, Obatungashe Adebayo, said there was no sign that the Lagos State Government was doing anything to prepare for the flood, the government said it was prepared for the rains.
Adebayo, who is the General Secretary of the Igbo Olomu Community Development Association, pointed out that the Odo Afa Bridge around Ishawo Road always created problem for residents during the rainy season.He said, “In all parts of Ikorodu, there is nothing to show there is any preparation for flood. Even the roads the government was constructing have been abandoned. The two major roads under construction in Igbogbo and Ishawo have been neglected. People are suffering here.”
But the President of the Lekki Residents Association, Kayode Otitoju, said although the area was well planned, it had flooding problems because some residents failed to clear their gutters.He said, “The master plan gave Lekki a good drainage system. The three primary drainage systems are functioning well. They are cleared at least twice a year. We just cleared the two major ones.
“Where people are well coordinated and the gutters are cleared, the maximum time is 15 minutes. But when the tertiary gutters are blocked, there could be stagnant water for up to a week.”Lagos must prepare for heavy rainfall–NEMAHowever, the spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency, South-West zone, Ibrahim Farinloye, explained that the agency held a meeting with the state’s emergency agencies to prepare them for the coming flood.
He noted that the Nigerian Meteorological Agency had also been advised to be providing hourly information on rainfall in the country.Farinloye, however, said Lagos could witness the heaviest flood in the country.“In every part of the country, there has been consistent rainfall. But in Lagos, in the past three weeks, there has not been rainfall, and that is a signal that when the rain eventually comes, it could be forceful.
“The rain that should have come in three to four weeks may come in the remaining part of the month. That means we must prepare for heavy rainfall in Lagos. And one of the preparations is alerting the council and state emergencies,” he said.The NEMA spokesperson said most of the drains and canals, which had lasted for years, were not built to withstand the current flooding situation.
We’re prepared for the worst flooding-LASEMABut the Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the state government was prepared for the worst.He said, “We realised the topography and the vulnerability of Lagos State to flood. Empirically, we have analysed that out of the 57 LGAs in Lagos, about 33 of them are vulnerable to flood. So, we are strengthening our local emergency committees. We have also started carrying out simulation among key stakeholders that are important in managing emergency in the state.
“We have also bought sophisticated equipment, zoned LASEMA and decentralised our operations. We are carrying out simulation to respond to flood disasters in Lagos State.“By next week, we will find out from the local governments to ensure they comply with what we have put in place. Some of our relief camps too, we are putting final touches to them. While we believe the situation will be handled, we are preparing for the worst. If need be, we will evacuate the citizens who are vulnerable to our relief camps.”
65 erosion sites may worsen looming flood in AbiaIn Abia State, it is discovered that over 65 erosion sites in the three senatorial districts in the state; Abia North, South and central may worsen the impending flood in the state. In Abia North, local government areas mostly affected were Isuikwuato and Bende.
According to the member representing Bende Federal Constituency at the Federal House of Representatives, Benjamin Kalu, the impact of floods and erosion in Bende Federal Constituency needs an urgent intervention.“It is not only in Bende , it is in Isikwuato and Ohafia. If we keep quiet, our communities will be completely wiped off. The action has to be now to avoid greater damage. It is killing us and leaving the living with the pangs of hunger,” he said.
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