Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
The people of five communities in Idanre Local Government Area of Ondo State recently experienced the unexpected. What they believed would have been a blessing for them eventually turned to a curse. This was as a result of a downpour in the communities.
Although it lasted for just two hours, it however, turned hundreds of people homeless through flood. Mostly affected by the disaster were the people of Alade-Idanre and Idanre as items of property worth millions of naira were destroyed. Many residents are yet to return to their homes.
The incident led to the destruction of more than 60 houses in Alade-Idanre, even as schools, churches, mosques, community hall, social and commercial centres were not spared. While some of the houses were partially affected, many have their roofs completely blown off. Also, some vehicles were trapped under fallen trees.
The incident also resulted into total blackout as electric poles and wires were destroyed by flood. Many of the areas where the rain wrecked havoc are still in darkness, although efforts are being made by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to restore electricity into the areas.
The Aladeokun of Alade-Idanre, Oba Olusegun Akinbola, urged government to be proactive to the plight of the people of the town, just as he called on the government to assist the victims.
Also, the Owa of Idanre, Oba Fredrick Aroloye, begged government to help the affected people of the community by providing relief materials, even as he called on well-meaning indigenes of the town to assist their kinsmen affected by the ugly incident. He said the extent of damage done by the flood could not be quantified yet, urging government to provide alternative accommodation for residents before they repair their damaged properties:
“This incident came to us as a shock. It is very unfortunate that this could happen to us at this time when things are not easy in the country. That is why we are calling on our state government to assist us out of the problem. We are begging.”
He explained that the residents had contacted the lawmakers representing the constituencies at the state and National Assembly to come to their, but no meaningful result has been achieved, hence the call on the state government and spirited individuals to assist them.
A resident, Helen, said she lost her property to the flood and now lives with her children inside a church, stressing the need for government to provide assistance to victims of the disaster: “It has not been easy coping with the situation. I was not at home when the incident happened but my children who were at home called my attention to the unfortunate incident before I returned home.
“We lost most of our valuables to the rain storm and as a matter of fact we don’t have where to sleep now. There is nobody to accommodate us. We live inside the church and the church members provide foods and other materials we need for us. The clothes we are wearing were given to us by some members of the church. The government should please assist us for us to return home as soon as possible.”
Mr Idowu Babalola said the wind, which accompanied the rain blew off many houses, a development which led to flood in some parts of the affected areas: “Some friends have come to my rescue and that is why you can still find us here, otherwise we would have relocated to a friend’s house. It was an unfortunate experience because the incident caused a lot of disturbances for the family before we could be settled.”
He called on the state government and the National Emergency Maintenance Agency (NEMA) to provide succour for the affected victims, as according to him many of them are pensioners and petty traders who have no strong means of livelihood.
Mr Isaac Obe, a secondary schoolteacher explained: “The incident was quite unfortunate, but we thank God no life was lost. There was not even any casualty but we lost material things. The storm caused the damages and efforts to rehabilitate the damaged things have not been fruitful, hence our appeal to the state government and other relevant authorities to come to our rescue.”
He lamented the loss of her valuables which he said amounted to several thousands of naira, saying that he was away when the incident occurred: “I was not at home when I got the sad news. I got home inside the rain, only to discover that the havoc had already been done.
“I lost many of my belongings including my children and wife’s materials. We are five in the house and every one of us lost vital belongings. Our hope is that the state government and other relevant authorities will assist us.” He said members of his family had relocated to a friend’s house in the town, stressing that the family is living on the mercy of relatives and friends.
A widow, who was also affected lamented: “I was inside my room when the rain started. I did not have the premonition that the rain would cause the havoc until it happened. I got to know of the incident when I started seeing water inside the room. Before I knew it water had taken over the entire building.
“It took the intervention of my neighbours for me to escape death. I was the only one inside the house when the rain started. All my belongings were lost to the flood and the house was partly affected.”
The Deputy Governor, Mr Agboola Ajayi, who visited the affected areas identified with the victims. He assured them of government assistance: “Government will take steps to avert such incident in the future.” He urged the people to plant trees around their residences to avoid storm.
He unfolded plans to demolish buildings erected on waterways: “We thank God no life was lost, small flood that is not much like this had killed, but we thank God such did not happen in Idanre. I was in Ibadan when this happened. We have inspected the houses I will advise that our people should leave the affected houses to prevent another disaster.
“Some people build houses along the river course, we will ensure that no matter how highly placed the person is we will demolish the house to have a free flow of water,” he added.
Ajayi also promised that amphibious excavator would be deployed to the towns to help channel the waterways in the town.
Member representing Idanre in the House of Assembly, Festus Akingbaso, thanked government on behalf of the people after it promised to provide succour to the victims. He said he supported government on demolishing houses that blocked waterways.