Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
On April 10 at about 9pm, a rainstorm accompanied by thunderstorm descended on 72 villages that make up Edda clan in Afikpo South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
According to residents, the violent forces literally held the inhabitants hostage and tore larger percentage of their valuables into shreds.
An eyewitness, Mr. Iheanacho Okam, listed some of the villages affected by the storm to include Ikelogo Ezi-Edda, Amoso Edda, Owutu Edda, Itim Edda, Ebe Unwana, Ekeeje, Nguzu, Etiti Edda and Ekoli Edda and so many others all in Edda community.
Aside from residential buildings and public facilities like schools, churches, and hospitals, economic trees, farmlands, electricity poles, and other valuables were damaged.
Daily Sun gathered that in the midst of the ensuing chaos and confusion, some residents sustained varying degrees of injuries.
When our correspondent visited the community, traces of the trails of the disasters were still visible. Some concrete electricity poles broken by the storm were lying by the roadsides.
An ancient tree said to be more than 40 years located in the village square of Nkelogo Ezi-Edda was shattered by the storm with its branches broken in pieces. Many palm trees and other important trees were broken in pieces.
Roof of many residential homes were pulled off and carried far away by the rampaging storm while many more were dissolved to their foundation.
One of such homes belonged to a 98-year-old woman from Nkelogo Ezi-Edda, Mrs Nwannadiya Agha, who cheated death by the whiskers when her thatched house collapsed following the downpour.
At Etiti Edda Technical Secondary School, Etiti Edda, about five buildings were affected. Sad enough, the damaged buildings were brand new facilities which were completed last year.
Relieving their ordeals, some of the residents lamented that life has become more difficult for them as their means of livelihood have been destroyed. They also lamented that their food stuffs, important documents, clothing, and other valuables were damaged by the rainstorm.
“Our house fell in the night of 10th April during a rainstorm. The wind blew off the zink away. It was a horrible experience for us. We slept in our neighbour’s house,” Ms Esther Nkama said.
Another victim, Mr. David Ufiem, from Nkelogo Ezi-Edda, narrated that they had gone to bed when the rainstorm started.
“The rain started with heavy windstorm. As at that time, we had gone to bed. We were aroused from sleep by the heavy rain immediately the breeze blew off our roof and flung it far away. The ceilings fell on us while we slept,” he said.
The 45-year-old father of eight children narrated that in the midst of the confusion that followed the sudden commencement of the storm, some of his family members sustained injuries while they ran helter-skelter to take refuge in one of their neighbour’s houses.
“Some of us sustained mild injury. We were still there when the rain pulled down a portion of our house. The rainstorm destroyed many things in our house. Our foodstuffs, documents, soaked our cloths and mattresses and many others,” he said.
Another victim, Mr. Uche Paulinus Akuma, 56, disclosed that given the force with which the rainstorm started, he ran out naked in the midst of the confusion.
“The rain destroyed so many things in my house. The rain started around 8pm. We were about going to bed when it started. I was about changing my cloth when it started. In fact, I was caught in the midst of the whole thing and had to run out naked,” he said.
Mrs. Nwanne Adiyiagha, 98-year-old widow, said her survival was by the grace of God as her mud house collapsed as soon as the storm started.
“This God is wonderful. I was on my bed when it started. I felt rain drops. I wondered when my roof started leaking. With time, the raindrops intensified. Like play, the wind blew off my roof and carried it far away.
“I was still struggling to rise from the bed after the roof was blown away, when walls began falling down. They fell outward, if they had fallen inward, I wonder what would have been the story by now. Nobody was with me in the house. I was rescued by a neighbour.
“My children have all died, only my grandchildren are alive and none of them is living with me. I have no house currently,” she lamented.
A teacher at Etiti Edda Technical Secondary School, Etiti Edda, Mr Onu Kalu Omaka, while conducting newsmen around the school, lamented that many of the buildings damaged by the storm were newly built.
“Almost all parts of this community were affected. It was in the morning that we came to behold this ugly scene. While we were on our way in the morning, we saw many buildings that were ravaged by the rainstorm.
“When we entered this school, almost all the classrooms were destroyed except one. This workshop was completed by the contractor just last year. The three new buildings were affected by the rainstorm.
“Very soon, academic activities will resume. I don’t even know how we are going to handle this because the students will soon return to school. They don’t live here though.
“Five buildings that were affected, two are classrooms, one is science/technical workshop. The gateman’s office was destroyed; this one behind us is another of the buildings that were affected,” he further narrated.
Chairman of the Local Government Area, Mr. Eni Uduma Chima, a lawyer, said rainstorm devastated a lot of homes and other structures in nearly half of the council area.
“I got distress calls from my vice-chairman who is from Etiti autonomous community. And also from one of my councillors who represents Omo ward who called to tell me what happened.
“I saw things for myself the next day as I joined them to move round the communities affected. Even the billboards that were mounted, all of them were affected. The Afo Market in Owutu was affected too. Many residential homes in Amaato, Omo, Itim, Amoso, Etiti and many others were also devastated.
“Even the chairman’s lodge at the council headquarters was affected; part of the roofs of the buildings was pulled off. And as I speak, repair works are ongoing.
“What I have done was to inform the coordinators of the various development centres in the local government and they are compiling the list of the affected buildings and homes.
“I spoke with the Coordinator of Edda West Development Centre on that because his part of the local government was worse hit. We are keeping in touch and we will work with State Emergency Management Agency on how to do something to ameliorate the plight of the victims. We have invited them to come and see things for themselves.”
But efforts to get the reaction of chairman, State Emergency Management Agency, Pastor Kenneth Ozioma Eze, proved abortive as calls to his mobile phone were neither picked nor returned as at the time of filing this report.