Ilorin — It was the first 2013 rain in Ilorin, Kwara State but it was greeted by a windstorm that destroyed property worth millions of naira within one hour that it lasted. The rain came barely a month after the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) predicted heavy rainfall in the state. Weekly Trust reports:
Rainfall is a natural phenomenon which people yearn for especially during hot weather. The rain comes with the benefits of changing the climate to a favourable one and addresses the problem of water shortage.
This was what the people of Ilorin anxiously expected the first rain of the year to do for them and expressed joy when it started on February 19, but it brought miseries to 1, 907 residents of the state.
On that fateful day, the rain caught many residents unawares and lasted for about an hour from around 7pm. It started drizzling but suddenly the light shower turned into a scary downpour accompanied by windstorm which left many residents indoors.
Some residents within that time were rendered homeless as rooftops of apartments were either partially or completely blown off; fences collapsed, while electric cables and wires littered major streets of the state capital due to fallen poles.
When our reporter went round the state's capital the following morning, victims were seen counting their losses. Some had their mattresses, furniture, air conditioners, rugs and clothing materials damaged.
Besides, officials of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) were seen gathering electric cables littered on the streets and fixing back fallen poles with the hope of restoring electricity to the affected areas.
It was gathered that the feeder connecting Ita-Elepa, Taiwo-Isale and Gaa-Akanbi was affected by the rainstorm but was immediately repaired by the PHCN officials.
Some of the places affected by the storm included Abayawo, Alore, Oloje, Ode Alausa, Jooro community, Okelele, House of Assembly Chambers, where the rooftop was partially blown off, legislative quarters, Fate-Tanke, Tanke and Alalubosa.
The Special Adviser to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed on Emergency and Relief Services, Alhaji Musa Abdullahi, also went round the city with a delegation from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to assess the level of destruction and sympathize with the victims. The delegation assured them of government's assistance to cushion the effect of the rainstorm.
One of the victims at Jooro community, Hajia Sifau Salman, disclosed to Weekly Trust that 10 rooms in her building were affected by flood caused by the rain which rendered them homeless with several property destroyed.
Also, Alhaji Baba La'aro of Jooro community appealed to the state government to as a matter of urgency come to their aid with relief materials in order to cushion the effect of the disaster.
La'aro said six rooms were affected from his house and property worth thousands of naira destroyed.
Educational institutions, mostly primary and secondary schools were equally destroyed by the storm. Some of the schools affected as inspected by the state's Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Alhaji Saka Onimago, were the old Government Secondary School (GSS), Ilorin, which was established in 1914, Saint James C.A.C Junior and Senior Secondary Schools on New Yidi Road, Government Day Secondary School, Adewole, among others.
Also affected was the newly roofed three-storey Regional office of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Altogether, about 1, 907 people were said to have been affected by the rainstorm according to the governor's aide, respite has therefore come their way as government on Tuesday commenced distribution of relief materials to them.
While distributing the relief materials at the state's Agricultural Development Project (KWADP) premises, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Emergency and Relief Services said the gesture is meant to demonstrate the state government's commitment to the welfare of its citizens.
He explained that the rainstorm has rendered many of the victims homeless with some of them taking refuge in mosques and churches, noting that the materials would afford them the opportunity to rebuild their damaged houses.
One of the victims, Alhaji Abubakar Adamu, while speaking with journalists, thanked the state government for the gesture, saying that it would go a long way in ameliorating their sufferings.
He said thus: "We are very grateful to the government of Kwara State for this urgent intervention. We see this as a great succour that would give us a pat on the back in moving on after the heavy downpour. We see it as an act of God and we are very happy that government has deemed it fit to come to our aid because the property lost to the rainstorm cannot be quantified. We are however relieved by the assistance rendered to us by the government".
As the rainy season commences in the state, it is imperative that proactive measures are taken to prevent the recurrence of last year devastating flood as the state was recently listed by the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) as one of the states that will experience heavy downpour and serious flooding. Therefore, a proactive rather than reactive step would save the state from another flood disaster.