Cross River State — ABOUT 79, 000 people have been displaced by natural disasters in the past nine months in Cross River State. Out of the number, more than half - 49, 918 - were displaced by flood as a result of the release of water from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon.
The flood affected 178 communities, killed 11 persons and destroyed 15 churches, 13 schools and 18 markets. The worst hit was Biase Local Government Area where 18 communities were sacked, 11 persons drowned, eight churches, six schools and nine markets destroyed.
The flood also displaced 26 communities from Ikom Local government Area and destroyed one school and two markets. In Odukpani Local government Area, 29 communities were displaced, while 34 communities were sacked by the flood in Ogoja Local Government Area with three churches, four schools and two markets destroyed.
In Obubra, 18 communities were rendered homeless, four churches, two schools and five markets destroyed, while the flood turned indigenes of 22 communities' into refugees in their fatherland. Abi also was not left out as 13 communities were also displaced.
At Umon Island in Biase, a seven year old girl was killed, three declared missing while two were taken to hospital where they were receiving treatments following an overflow of the Cross River that swept away the community.
Among those receiving treatment at the community Health Centre, Umon who narrowly escaped death when their houses collapsed on them (but were lucky that the youths on vigilante exercise were around) are a 53 year old woman and a 78 year old man.
The corpses of the missing children feared drowned in their houses and apparently washed into the river were yet to be found despite the efforts made by the village divers searching for them so that they could be given befitting burial.
The family of the dead girl who had already been buried was yet to fully absorb the shock as they were seen mourning at the grave side.
In Umon Island alone over 40 houses with about 1,500 people while about 70% of the entire village with a population of 6,000 has been flooded, and movement between houses done either by wading through water which is at waist level or canoes.
A prominent Chief of the community Elder Okon Nya Aniyom, 78, while reacting to the disaster recalled that such catastrophe had occurred twice in his lifetime; 1971 and 1991 but that the magnitude could never be compared with what was happening.
In Calabar Municipality, over nine residential buildings were pulled down by gully erosion occasioned by the heavy flood, while about 15 others are highly vulnerable to collapsing along the Atimbo water channel.
The flood sacked 150 people from their homes. One of the victims, a widow who recently lost her husband to assassins in Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Helena Akpabio, lamented that the section of her apartment where she was residing had collapsed with her household property. Mrs. Akpabio who was with a 3 month old child said that she had no place to go to and pleaded with the state government and philanthropic organizations to urgently come to her aid.
Delivering a paper at a workshop jointly organized by the State ministry of Information and the United Nation's Children Fund, UNICEF, with the theme 'Flooding and Climate Change Adaptation in Cross River State: Safety measures for School Children.