From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Residents of Asaba, Delta State capital, are still counting their losses following heavy flooding arising from torrential rains that pounded the city for three consecutive days. From Okpanam road through DBS road to Ibusa road, Jesus Saves and DLA among other areas, tales of woes are reverberating. Private property, government establishments and public infrastructures were submerged.
Two persons including a ten-year-old girl and a middle-aged man reportedly drowned. The helpless ten-year-old girl who was said to have lost her parents earlier fell into the rampaging storm water at Okpanam. The raging water dragged her through the ongoing storm drainage construction project on the dualised Okpanam-Asaba road before vomiting the dismembered body at the Redeemed Junction where sympathisers wailed at the gory sight. On the other hand, the middle-aged man identified as Hassan was swept off by the ravaging flood at Akpu Junction, opposite the Legislative Quarter. Although, he was reportedly rescued, Hassan died soon after.
The flooding was obviously aggravated by the ongoing construction of underground storm water control drainages by the state government, in which the final discharge point is yet to be opened.
For instance, at Jesus Saves road, a victim whose property was destroyed, Catherine Ohalezim, said the ancillary discharge point in the ongoing project was yet to be linked when the flood came calling.
Ohalezim, who is undergoing her mandatory one-year service under the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) said she was away on holiday when her neighbours sent a distressed video recording of how the flood ravaged her apartment.
She disclosed that before the incident, there was a minor incident before she traveled when flood water crept into her apartment while she fast asleep.
“I was sleeping when my roommate woke me up suddenly and we discovered that water has entered our apartment. The water was approaching our mattresses, so we have to take refuge in the room of a flat mate.
“But this latest flooding incident was massive. We had travelled out of town when the flood came. Our neighbours sent us video recording of the incident. The entire compound was overtaken by flood.
“That apartment where we earlier took refuge was also affected in no small measure. The gas cylinder, which we recently refilled was turned upside down. Shoes, clothes and other personal effects were seen floating in water. As we speak, we are still cleaning the mess brought by the unwanted visitor,” Ohalezim said.
For Mr. Chika Onadeko, a technician along Ibusa road, the flood was devastating. He said his workshop was completely submerged. Onadeko said he lost some of his tools.
“We were still at work when the rain started. We thought it was something we can control because in previous years, we used to contend with the situation. But most of us were wrong.
“It was like the flood was angry. It entered apartments, shops and offices without qualms. The people could watch helplessly as their property were damaged. As we speak, I can’t find some of my tools,” Onadeko claimed.
At DBS road where the state-owned broadcasting station, Delta Broadcasting Service, is located the story was not different. The entire DBS was flooded causing damage to the equipment and sacking workers on duty.
One of the adjoining road to DBS, Ogagifo Street, was severed by the flood at the Summit Road end. The situation resulted in traffic gridlock at the Okpanam Road, forcing motorists to drive against traffic.
The flooding has exposed the inadequacies in the ongoing underground storm water control channels across some areas in the metropolis.
In a statement by the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Information, Mr. Paul Osahor, government expressed sadness over the pains of residents despite the ongoing measures to contain the situation.
Osahor said government was concerned about the untold hardship road users and residents have been subjected to, explaining, however, that the disaster was a natural occurrence particularly in the face of the low lying nature of the town.
The statement said although the delay in the completion of the storm water projects had not helped to bring the desired succour, the linkages in other storm water projects already completed to the streams and rivers ensured that the flood receded fast after the rains.
Osahor stated that government regretted all inconveniences the situation caused road users and residents in general and appealed for calm, explaining that it had intensified efforts to ensure that the contracting firm handling the remaining parts of the storm water projects along Okpanam and DBS roads complete the work soonest.