7 October 2012

Nigeria: We Woke up Inside Water, Benue State Victims Lament

Photo: Vanguard
Areal view of Lokoja, Kogi State…under the siege of flood

Benue State — Never in the history of Benue State have the people been so devastated by flood water.

The devastation, to say the least, took the people unawares and this accounted for the magnitude of losses incurred by victims - most woke up one morning to discover that they were sitting in the middle of an angry River Benue that overflowed its banks.

From Katsina-Ala to Makurdi down to Otukpo and Agatu, it was all tales of woes by the victims of the devastation; and as at the last count, close to 10,000 houses, business places, huts and farmlands have been swept away or submerged by the raging flood.

Worst hit by the devastation were residences and houses along the banks of River Benue and most structures within ten kilometers radius of the River.

Some of the communities and towns badly hit by the rising flood waters included Otukpo, Agatu and Apa local government areas of the state while in Makurdi areas like Kucha Otebe, Gyado Villa, brick factories in Wadata and New Garage, the abattoir along the new Makurdi bridge, North bank and the highbrow Judges quarters where Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume and Minister of State, Trade and Investment, Dr. Samuel Ortom, have their residential houses, were ravaged.

Also threatened by the rising water levels were the main campus of the Benue State University and the newly constructed Benue University Teaching Hospital, the Regional Headquarters of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG and the cooperate headquarters of state owned transportation company, Benue Links Nigeria, all in Makurdi.

The devastation also sacked majority of the students of the state owned Benue State University who moved out in droves after losing most of their books and house hold items to the flood.

One of the victims of the flood and final year student of Benue State University, Mr. John Itodo, told Sunday Vanguard that the flood took them unawares.

He said, "We actually noticed a sudden rise in water levels along the banks of River Benue but we felt it was normal given the torrential rains two days before; but to our surprise we woke up one morning to discover that our houses have been completely submerged by water flowing from the river".

Recounting his loss, father of four, Mr. Romeo Dajoh, said he lost several of his household items but thanked God that he was able to escape with his family alive.

But as the victims continue to count their losses, the State government also moved to provide them some form of reprieve and succor; three displaced persons' camps were immediately established to house the thousands of people who lost their homes to the deluge.

Flood submerged buildings at Umueze Anam, Anambra west LG

And as the number of the displaced families continued to swell, the state government increased the number of camps to four all of which were situated within the premises of schools located in High level, Wurukum and Wadata areas of Makurdi town.

Though the level of the devastation was beyond the scope of the state government, this bold initiative has also been accompanied with the provision of food and medications for the displaced with several donor agencies coming to the aid of the victims.

Members and officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and that of the Nigerian Red Cross Society have also been handy and helpful in ensuring that the displaced persons have access to good medicare and good food.

Benue State First Lady, Arc Mrs. Yemisi Suswam, was also on hand to extend assistance and aid to children, women and families in order to ameliorate their suffering.

Mrs. Suswam, who worked in tandem with officials of the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, frequents the camps to ensure that they were managed efficiently while also moving relief materials, clothing, food, school scandals, books and other learning aid to the displaced persons in the four camps.

According to Mrs. Suswam during one of her visits to the camps, "we will continue to stand by you in this trying moments. Rest assured that I share your pains and suffering as a result of this devastation.

Mrs. Suswam, who also organized a 52nd Independence Day Anniversary Celebration for children of the displaced persons in Makurdi, used the occasion to receive two newly born babies at the Wurukum camp where she promised to personally cater for the needs of the new babies and their mothers.

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