Billy Graham Abel, Yola
Though it had rained for days before the tragedy struck, there was no inkling that lives would be lost. But that was what exactly happened after many days of torrential rainfall in Yola North, Yola South, Girei, Shelleng and Gany local government areas of Adamawa State. By the time it was all over, seven people, who were thinking of anything but death, lost their precious lives while nine are still missing, no thanks to the raging, ravaging floods.
About 200 residents were said to have been displaced from their homes by the deluge. Right now they are only managing to exist on the mercies of government and people’s goodwill. Although flash floods have become something of annual occurrence, this year’s seemed to have come with a vengeance. And, with it, came widespread monumental humanitarian disaster and crisis in the state.
The downpour that triggered the flood reportedly began on August 1, 2019, and it left commuters and residents of Yola and other affected local government areas stranded. At the end of it all, it caused irreparable losses of lives and property.
Among early respondents to the plight of the residents was the Deputy Governor of Adamawa State, Crowther Seth, who led a high-powered government delegation including the Chief of Staff, Maxwell Gidado, to empathise with the affected victims. During the visit, Seth revealed that the state government was working assiduously to find immediate and long-term solutions to what has become a perennial problem in the state. Offering a safety guide to the people, he counseled those living in lower lands or below sea level to move to higher grounds in view of flood alerts by the Nigerian Meterological Agency (NIMET) that the rains are going to continue to fall till the month of September.
He, however, made it clear that the Ahmadu Umar Fintiri government is going to ensure that the welfare and well-being of citizens are accorded top priority. He also called on traditional leaders in the state to continue counseling locals on the need to heed government’s advice on issues of emergency. He blamed rampant erection of illegal structures on officially marked out waterways as being responsible for most of the flooding, even as he called on the federal government to urgently come to their aid.
“The erection of illegal structures on waterways among other bad practices, are responsible for the perennial flooding in the state capital,” he noted. “I will also like to appeal to the federal government for immediate intervention as the problem is overwhelming considering the security challenges confronting the state’’, he further added.
Usman Mohammed, a resident of Yola and one of the victims displaced by the rampaging floods reported that the affected communities “witnessed a downpour the like of which had never taken place in the last ten years. It destroyed shops, farmlands, fences, market stalls, in fact, we cannot quantify the amount of loss we suffered because of this flood.”
Mohammed who is grateful to God to be alive despite the loss of his house and other property appealed for urgent help from government at the state and federal levels. “We want the state government to construct a drainage channel for this area because we have been at the receiving end of flood and will likely continue to suffer unless this problem is fixed.”
Suleiman Abba, another resident and eyewitness agreed with others, not only on the magnitude of the damage and destruction but also on its cause. His words: “I have been living in this area for about nine years and this is the first time we are having it this bad. Our homes are flooded and if the state government does not construct drainages to address this flooding, it would continue to re-occur. Some construction works are going on along waterways which is unfortunate and this could lead to a lot of damage.”
Speaking on the matter, the Executive Secretary, Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency, Suleiman Aminu, disclosed that the agency was giving shelter to over 200 displaced persons in a camp before adding that they have been provided with facilities by the government.
“We have over 290 people here in Damare, mostly women and children,” he said. “I have also received another report that some communities in Ganye have been flooded and we will be on an assessment tour with the deputy governor. I have also received information that three communities in Shelleng have been displaced by the flood, so it’s flooding everywhere.”
He listed the affected communities in Yola as Modire in Yolde-Pate, Wuro-Hausa, Shagari, Bachure, Army Barracks Road, Damilu, Jambutu and parts of Nassarawa in Yola, the Adamawa State capital. Other areas in the state capital affected by the flood includes Anguwar Magaji, Yolde Pate in Yola-South, Jimeta Central Market, Jambutu, Anguwar Buhu, Rumde Baru, Damilu and others in Yola-North. In these places, hundreds of houses were completely submerged leading to displacement of people and loss of property.