– The Sun News

Port  Harcourt residents count loses, as flood wreaks havoc in garden city

From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt                                  


Residents of  Port Harcourt and neighbouring towns, in Rivers State, will not forget the downpour of Saturday, July  22 and Sunday, July 23,  in a hurry. 

The rain destroyed unquantifiable property  and  rendered many  homeless.

Also, a 25-year-old trader at  Mile One Market, was electrocuted on that fateful Saturday night. The victim reportedly returned from market and  entered his apartment in Oloibiri Street in D-Line, Port Harcourt, unknown  to him that  one of  the  electricity  appliances  was in contact with water.

A resident, Nich Uche,  explained  that  it was a neighbour, who noticed his  lifeless body  and raised  the  alarm.

The rainfall, which started early Saturday morning  continued till  Sunday   evening, causing  drainages to overflow into some streets. Some of  the affected  areas included  Uyo, Awka, Okija, Kaduna, and  Oloibiri located near the end of D-Line in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area.

Also affected were Rumuolumeni community and some areas along Aba Road, which included the office of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), where official and impounded vehicles were  submerged.

The FRSC office was  badly affected  by the flooding, which forced  the personnel on weekend duty, to  abandon the first floor of the three-storey building, for safety. They were trapped there till Monday, when  the flood subsided.

The entire Aba Road, by FRSC axis, would have been impassable on Saturday and Sunday, but for the Kaduna  and Nzimiro streets flyover, which prevented the flood  which had already overflown the Ntawogba canal, from crossing the ever-busy road.

Unfortunately, the flood  surged  into the FRSC premises, warehouses, residential houses and churches in the affected  Awka and Uyo Streets.

One of  the Warehouses close to former Savannah Bank building on Aba Road, was one of the worse affected. It was gathered that hundreds of  bags of  rice and beans,  stored in the property were destroyed.

During a visit to the place on Sunday evening, labourers were  busy evacuating the soaked goods from the Warehouse into  lorries.

After  rainfall on Saturday, residents of some of the affected  areas moved  their property to safer locations .  But while they battled to recover from Saturday incident, it seemed as if the cloud was let loose on Sunday morning, thereby increasing the volume of  flood which  spilled over to the  areas hitherto perceived as  safe.

Another  resident of  D-Line,  simply  identified  as Ekanem, whose  one bedroom apartment was fllooded said he managed to move his family to his elder sister’s residence  in Woji. 

Ekanem  explained  that  when he sensed  danger, he picked some  property and documents and drove to Woji, where according to him, members of  his family would  stay for  some time.

Ekanem, however, appealed to the government to pay more attention on the drainage. He thanked God for the wisdom He gave him to think ahead the outcome of the flood, by  relocating  his family members.

“I am grateful to God that the matter can still be controlled, because it could have been worse. This is a warning sign that should be taken seriously. But I am  not the government,” he said. 

Similarly, the Fugerole axis in Oyigbo Local Government Area, also along Aba Road, was  not spared by the flood, despite the fact that the road was recently rehabilitated by the state government, following complaints from motorists, especially tanker drivers.

Commuters and other road users did not find  it easy too. As motorists struggled to navigate through the only lane,  after the water  in  the  other lane had risen far above its level, there was confusion as motorists,  in their  rush to wade through the flood, caused serious traffic gridlock.

In Rumuolumeni, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, which was also affected, some churches could not hold Sunday  service  as the  area  was flooded and could not be accessed on foot.

In the community, over 100  homes and  four churches were reportedly sacked and property worth millions of naira lost. 

Residents attributed the flooding to lack of  drainage system in the area.

One of the affected  landlords, identified as Benibo, blamed the construction company handling the Rumuolumeni/Iwofe Road project for their woes. 

He noted that the company did not construct good drainage to flank the newly built road in the area, pointing out that the water became too heavy for the gutters to carry. 

According to Benibo, residents had severally approached the company  to  complain about the poor drainage system  that channels water into a canal. He also noted that blocked  drainage obstructed  free flow of  water.

 “We have been rendered homeless because of flood. My family slept inside a church, far from this place, while I slept inside my car. Even, one of my neighbours has not been seen since last night (Saturday). We saw him parking his property in the afternoon, and  as at that time, his family had already moved to another place. Nobody knows what has happened to him now.

 “The MCC company,  which constructed the road is the cause of all this suffering. I remember we  invited  them when they were constructing this Iwofe Road, which even attracted the attention of  Governor Nyesom Wike, who ordered them to canalise the area properly. But, they did not listen. Now, the small canal has been blocked and water is not flowing,” he lamented.

Similarly, Pastor Namso Udoh, complained that since the construction of the Rumuolumeni-Iwofe Road,  they had never lived comfortably.

Pastor Udoh called on the state government to intervene to save residents from continuous flooding. 

He called for provision of relief materials for the affected families to ameliorate the suffering encountered by the residents.

Also, a cleric of  the Anglican Church in the area, Rev. Joe, called on  the government to respond to the plights of residents, especially those twho lost their homes and property.

Meanwhile, engineers from Julius Berger and the state Ministry of  Works  have commenced preliminary  work at different flood impacted locations  in the state.

This  followed a directive by Governor Wike,  after his  visit  to some of the areas affected by the  ravaging flood.

Governor Wike, after  inspecting the  affected  area   directed that immediate remedial measures to be taken. 

He reiterated  that his administration  would take  steps to stop recurrence.

He, however, appealed to residents to desist from  building on waterways, noting that resolving   flood challenges  in the state  requires every hand to be on deck.  He also admonished  Port Harcourt residents to desist from dumping refuse indiscriminately, especially into gutters.


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