Communities across the world had, at one time or another, contended with different forms of disaster such as earthquake, volcano, mudslide, among others. The year 2012 will remain indelible in the minds of many Nigerians who were ravaged by the floods due to torrential rains being experienced across the country. LEADERSHIP SUNDAY's George Okojie, Lagos; Muazu Elazeh, Katsina; Achor Abimaje, Jos; Muazu Abari, Yola; John Mkom, Jalingo; Nnamdi Mbawike, Enugu; Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri, and Onyekaozulu Ofoma, Abakaliki write on the damages done by the floods in different parts of the country.
The year 2012 will remain forever in the minds of many Nigerians as the year the heavens decided to punish the country for its lackadaisical attitudes towards nature and its natural endowment.
The country, though blessed with both human and natural resources, is still among the worst developed countries of the world. And this can be seen in the poor state of the nation's infrastructural amenities: the country's roads are in bad state, the drainages nationwide are nothing to commend on, while virtually all the so-called cities are nothing but modern-time rudimental settlements.
Poor drainages and untimely preparations by both the governments at the federal and state levels were among factors that led to flooding in different parts of the country; from Lagos, which suffered as flood and ocean siege ravaged unforgettable havoc on the people, to places in the eastern and northern parts of the country.
Lagos State, being about five metres below sea level, is prone to floods, thus, when it rained on three consecutive days sometimes in March this year, the state experienced serious flooding, with residents still counting their losses.
Also on Saturday, August 18, a combination of high sea surge and gale crashed through the coastline of Kuramo Beach drowning over 16 people.
Virtually all parts of the state, from Victoria Island to Lekki, Abule Egba, Ikeja, Apapa, Oshodi, Ikorodu, Agege, Okokomaiko and Ketu were flooded, forcing residents to stay indoors, while those on the streets battled to sail through the floods. A number of vehicles were submerged.
The Lagos State Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, informed residents that the rains would begin in March and end in November. To this end, the state government dedicated its monthly environmental sanitation exercise to cleaning and clearing of drains across the state. Bello also stressed that more canals had been dredged and all sedimentation cleaned by the Drainage Maintenance Department and Emergency Flood Abatement Department in readiness for the rains.
He said the peculiarity of Lagos as a coastal state, prone to flooding, makes it imperative for all hands to be on deck to assist the state government in reducing the incidence of flooding to the barest minimum. This, he noted, could be done by not engaging in acts such as dumping of refuse into drains and canals, as well as desisting from patronising cart pushers.
He informed residents that Resident Engineers and Drainage Maintenance Officers have been posted to all the 57 local governments and development areas in the state to tackle flood-related matters in each council area.
He advised that waste disposed through cart pushers and dumped into canals would eventually be washed back to homes and streets when it rains, adding that the problem of flooding would be easily solved when the people patronised the PSP operators who would ensure that collected wastes in each LGA are properly disposed.
In Katsina State, the people had to contend with the worst flood disaster in the state. For Mallam Sadik Abdullahi, a native of Shirgi Village in Batsari LGA, one of the council areas hit by gale of flooding that swept through four LGAs in the state, the recent flood disaster was the worst he had seen in his lifetime.
"I lost all my animals, food crops and all that I ever laboured for in my life. The magnitude of the disaster and the losses incurred are better imagined than said. This is one rain I experienced for the first time in the whole of my over 40 years of existence," Abdullahi said, adding that "we are appealing to the authority to come to our aid."
As at the last count, about four LGAs were affected by floods that claimed over six lives: three in Safana, two in Maiadua and one in Kurfi LGAs of the state. This is even as hundreds of families have been rendered homeless, as the torrential down pour washed away over 1,000 houses, with scores of domestic animals lost to the disaster.
It started from Maiadua LGA on August 24, where houses and property were destroyed at Gojo-gojo and Maiadua towns before "snowballing" to Safana, Batsari, Kurfi and Kusada LGAs. In Maiadua LGA, the flood destroyed over 800 houses. As at the time of filing this report, most of the flood victims were seeking refuge in their relatives and neighbours houses.
The Emir of Dauar, Umar Faruk Umar, pledged for assistance from philanthropic individuals for the victims, as the local government has made arrangements to relocate the victims. Abdulkadir Muhammad, head of the Information Unit in Maiadua LGA, told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that two trailers loaded with cement had been donated to the people; one by the Speaker of Katsina State House of Assembly, Yau Umar Gojo-gojo, and the other by the local government, for distribution to the affected victims.
He said "the local government also bought 300 bags of maize, bundles of wrappers, mats and other relief materials for distribution to the victims."
In Batsari LGA, some houses were partly damaged, while some were completely washed away, with serious damage done to food crops, farmlands and animals. However, Alhaji Kabir Abba Umar, Batsari LGA Information Officer said the council had provided 100 bags of cement, 20 bundles of roofing sheets, and 100 large-size rubber mats and blankets for the affected victims.
In Kusada LGA, ice-rain destroyed over 100 houses and washed away over 130 farmlands in Kofa and Tulani villages.
Reacting to the flood incidence, the NEMA head of training for North-West zone, Alhaji Aliyu Kafindangi, described the situation as terrible, noting that "NIMET's prediction has come to pass".
The people of Plateau Southern Senatorial District cannot, however, forget in a hurry the devastating flood that wrecked havoc to the people. According to NEMA Information Officer, Yohana Audu, the flood killed 35 persons, while scores of persons were reported missing.
Also about a hundred communities and over a thousand houses were said to have been affected in Shendam, Langtang North, Langtang South and Wase LGAs of the state. The Longvel bridge, linking the zone with Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital, and Taraba State, was also destroyed.
A Langtang residence, who survived the rampaging flood, Mr Nandom John, said he was sleeping with his family at about 9pm when he noticed that water had enveloped his building. As he quickly rescued his children and wife to safety, he said before he could come back, the building had collapsed.
Another victim in Lalin village of Langtang North, 39-year-old Joefrey Shalgam, said his family members were sleeping in their house when they noticed that it was being flooded. He said when he rescued his family, he saw from the main road, his building collapsing and the debris being washed away. He added that his livestock, like goats, sheep and chicken numbering over 50, were washed away by the flood.
Hon. Victor Lar, representing Plateau South said 28 people lost their lives in the flood, adding that in his over 50 years of existence; he had not witnessed such torrential rainfall. He presented 30 bags of maize to the people of Lalin village, while calling on the Federal Government to come to their rescue, by rebuilding the damaged bridge.
Meanwhile in Adamawa State, the people woke up last Saturday to see that their entire communities had been overtaken by floods, with most communities submerged, while others were washed away. This flooding is the worst that the state has experienced since 1985 when a similar one occurred.
The incident affected almost all the 21 LGAs in the state, and led to loss of lives and property. The 21 LGAs affected were: Guyuk, Shelleng, Numan, Demsa, Lamurde, Yola South, Yola North, Madagali, Girei, Mayo-belwa, Mubi North and Mubi South. The floods were caused by the opening of the Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.
More than 127 communities were affected. In Numan LGA, nine out of the 10 wards in the council were affected. In Demsa, 28 communities were submerged, while in Madagali, about 40 communities were submerged. However, in Yola North, 30 communities were affected, and in some villages, like Wuro-Bokki, dead bodies of humans and animals were sighted floating in the water.
Unconfirmed report has it that about 10,000 internally-displaced persons are currently taking refuge in various camps dotted across the state, while not fewer than 18 people were reported to have lost their lives.
The Adamawa State Government has, however, taken necessary steps to bring the situation under control. While the government has evacuated the affected people to various camps, it has also provided them with relief materials, especially feeding and medication, while necessary arrangements have also been put in place against a possible outbreak of cholera and other communicable diseases.
The secretary to the state government, who is also the chairman of the quick respond committee, Mr. Kobis Ari, admitted, in an interview with journalists, that the Cameroonian authorities had communicated to the state government of its intention to release water from the Ladgo Dam, but that the information was communicated late, precisely on Friday, which was a day before the release of the water, leaving them with no other option than to resort to radio campaigns, urging the people in the riverine areas of the state to move away.
Also, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has presented relief materials, ranging from food items, beddings, clothing to building materials, to the state government for onward distributions to the victims of the flood disaster.
In Taraba State, flood and landslide affected communities in Sadauna, Ibbi, Kurmi, Lau and Karim-Lamido LGAs. LEADERSHIP SUNDAY's visit to villages of Mayo Nyepe, Naso and Zango Ajiya in Gyembu Sadauna LGA revealed that landslide and flood have consumed over hundreds of residential houses, about 53 cows, 162 sheep and goats, 2,000 eucalyptus trees and many other economical viable trees.
In Kurmi LGA, over 472 farmlands of groundnuts, maize, cocoa, coffee and oil palm were destroyed by the flood. In Ibbi LGA, houses were not destroyed, but farmlands and fish ponds were all destroyed. Rice farms at the coast of River Benue were destroyed in Lau and Karim Lamido LGAs.
In the South-East, the tale of sorrow was not different, as torrential rainfall and landslides have continued to wreck the region. In Enugu State, torrential rains had swept away household appliances and livestock in Amaokwe in Udi LGA last week. The rain, which commenced about 11.30pm on the fateful day, did not stop till the night of the next day.
The Resident Priest of All Saints Anglican Church, Rev. Eric Ezeagakwu, who commented on the sad development, alleged that the cause of flood was the channelisation of water to the area by a construction company undertaking road construction between the 9th Mile and Oji, which distorted the normal flow of flood in the area.
A victim of the flood, Mrs. Gloria Amaefula, who narrated how the flood destroyed her shop, said: "All the clothes I sell and that of my neighbours have been destroyed. I do not know what to do now. I borrowed money to start this business, and I'm yet to pay back the money. Government should please assist us recover what we have lost.
While the people of Umuokpoke, Umuokani and Ilile in Ohaji/Egbema LGA of Imo State are presently at the mercy of God over heavy flooding ravaging their communities. A resident of Umuokpoke, Reverend Patrick Obinna, an Anglican clergyman, said the community has experienced untold hardship as a result of the flood. He stated that members of his parish had stopped attending services since the rains started.
However, Mr. Uche Onyebuchi, the Senior Special Assistant on General Duties to Imo State Deputy Governor, who also doubles as the Commissioner for Works, attributed the flood disaster in the state to illegal construction of houses on unauthorised areas, and blocking of drainages. He, however, assured that the state government would commence work on the roads as soon as the rains are over, just as he disclosed that work has already began on major roads with construction of culverts and drainages.
Meanwhile in Ebonyi State, flood disasters ravaged Oferekpe and Odomowo communities in Ikwo LGAs as well as in Uburu, Ohaozara LGA. The two separate disasters swept away homes and farmlands. The Executive Secretary of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Elder Igboke Umunna, confirmed that the flood affected 305 victims, disclosing that last year alone, flood ravaged 16 communities in Ikwo LGA with 32,938 victims affected.
The state Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Paul Okorie, said Iyiokwu and Iyiudele rivers in the state capital normally overflow their banks every year, but that with the Federal Government contract for concrete channelling of the two major waterways, the state has not experienced flood this year.
George Okojie, Nnamdi Mbawike, Achor Abimaje, John Mkom, Stanley Uzoaru, Muazu Abari, Muazu Elazeh, and Onyekaozulu Ofoma