…5 communities submerged
‘Dredging of the rivers ‘ll avert future occurrence’
From Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
These are not the best of times for the people of Onuebonyi, Inyimagu, and Mgbo Agbaja, communities and Ogbuewu Street in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State.
The people of the four communities domiciled in Abakaliki and Izzi local government areas recently had their area submerged by flood.
As they are gnashing their teeth, the people of Amugo, Akpoha community in Afikpo North Local Government Area are also counting their losses following a downpour that caused serious flooding in their area.
At Mgbo Agbaja community, some houses were pulled down by the flood with many more still being threatened as could be seen from the marks of flood level on them.
The residents were seen spreading many of the soaked household items in the sun while damaged items were disposed.
According to the people of the area, the heavy rainfall on the night of October 7, caused the flooding that invaded their homes, farmlands and worship centres.
They said that the Ebonyi River located in the area surged beyond its banks and wreaked havoc in many homes.
One of the victims, Mrs Maria Onunku, lamented that the flooding has brought untold hardship to her family.
She said that since after the natural disaster, the family was finding it very difficult to feed as the flood damaged their food stuffs.
“This one that just happened destroyed everything in our house. At the moment, we are finding it very difficult to feed. This is because the flood destroyed our food stuffs. It also soaked our foam, washed away some of our utensils. We are living at the mercy of people.
“My children have stopped going to school because the flood soaked their books and other school materials. We are stranded and we need help. In fact, that of my seven children is more important to me,” Mrs Onunku lamented.
Going down memory lane, she recalled that the flood started wreaking havoc in the area about eight years ago.
She, however, alleged that all efforts made to get assistance from the government were futile.
“What I am saying is that when we came here newly, flood submerged everywhere, including our home. It’s been about eight years when this flooding started in this area. Government officials came and said that they wanted to help us.
“We took passport photographs, filled some forms, and did every other thing that was required from us. Since that year till today, the government did not offer us anything; not even a pin,” she said.
Mrs Onunku lamented that rather than offer them help, the government marked their houses for demolition without any compensation attached.
“The government marked our house for demolition without giving us where to relocate. Are we going to relocate to heaven? They didn’t offer us any compensation. They didn’t even give us hope,” she lamented.
Giving more insight on the matter, her husband, Mr Okechukwu Onunku, alleged that some people who claimed to be government officials defrauded the residents of the area during the 2012 flooding that affected many states.
His words: “During the last flooding that occurred in 2012, some government officials came and sympathized with us. They said that they, as government, would come to our aid.
“But they said that before they would do anything for us, we must buy some forms at the cost of N2,500 per individual. The children were counted as one. This meant that each family paid N7,500 for the form.
“So, because all of us needed help, we wanted it to be done quickly so that they, being government, would quicken up their pace in bringing the relief materials and all that. My family went through difficult moments. So, you can imagine how badly I needed the government’s assistance.
“We filled the government’s form, attached passport photographs, wrote letters and did all other documentations. It is sad and very unfortunate that till today, not even a pin has been given to us since 2012.
“On this new incident, we need serious help. Many of us are farmers and do not have any other means of livelihood. If only the government can come to our aid and remedy this unfortunate situation, we will be glad. We are stranded.”
Another victim, Mrs Mary Irigiri, said: “The rain came with force in the midnight with heavy storm. We were in deep sleep when the flood occurred. We were woken up by the flood, we were trying to bring out some of our things from our house that was submerged in the flood, but the flood was so much that we abandoned our property to save our lives.
“The flood carried one of my children. She was later found. In fact, she had gulped so much flood water before she was rescued.
“Government officials have visited us and assured us of relief materials, but we are suffering a lot since the flood occurred. We have no foodstuffs to live on because the flood carried away all we have, including food. The flood also swept off most of my livestock and broke down my economic trees.”
Mr Nwankaleke Nwaodabe from Mgbo Agbaja went into great lamentation when this reporter accosted him.
A small mud hut housing his family was dissolved by the flood. Food stuffs, beddings and other household wares of the family were damaged.
“As you can see, the flood surged into our home and dissolved our house. It also soaked our food stuffs, mattresses, and other household wares. Some of our livestock were washed away, especially the fowls.
“In our farms, the flood destroyed our food crops. Since after that incident, we find it very difficult to eat. Take a look at my children, everybody is hungry. I am just doing the little I can to ensure that they don’t starve,” he said.
When Oriental News visited some of the communities, occupants of storey buildings in the affected villages, who were trapped, relocated to the upper floors for safety.
A community leader, Chidiebere Aloh, attributed the flooding to the overflowing of Ebonyi and Ebya rivers and appealed to the government at all levels to find lasting solution to the problem.
Also, Mrs Tarzan Chukwuma and Friday Nwokporo, lamented that the flood destroyed some of their household wares.
In Amugo, Akpoha in Afikpo North council area, it was gathered that the flood surged into farmlands and destroyed their food crops worth millions of naira.
Some of the victims lamented that they took loan to embark on the farming business.
One of them, Mr Oma Ogbonnaya, told Oriental News that he borrowed money to cultivate his rice farm that was washed away by the flood.
“I cultivated this farm in July and this is the only means of livelihood that I have. I took loan to cultivate it. I am confused right now because Idon’t know what to do. I had hoped to pay back the loan in December, but with this situation, I don’t know what to do,” he lamented.
Two other victims, Mr Nwocha Eze and Mr Romanus Ndu said if the relevant bodies did not take urgent steps to cushion the effect of the flood on them, there would be serious hunger in the area in the few months to come.
Coordinator of Amaoha Development Centre, Elder David Egwu, attributed the flooding to the spillover of Obubura and Akpoha rivers.
He said that farmers in the area cultivate twice yearly, but most times don’t reap as a result of flooding.
He, therefore, called for the dredging of the rivers to avert future occurrence.
“If these two rivers are dredged, I believe that the menace will stop” he said.
When contacted, the Executive Secretary, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) in Ebonyi, Pastor Ken Oziomaeze, explained that the Nigeria Metrological Agency announced that eight out of the 13 local government areas in the state would be affected by flood this year.
He advised the people to relocate to IDP camps made available by the state government or other safer grounds as more flooding might wreak more havoc this year.
“This is not even the end of it. By the reason of what they predicted, more flooding will still occur. And that’s more reason our people should be more careful. If you have your cassava or yams in the flood-prone zones, please take them away. If you live around those places we have marked, please move to the IDP camps we have provided,” he said.
He, however, sympathized with the victims of the flood, assuring that his agency would offer them relief materials.