No life was lost to the flood, but a magnificent building belonging to Pasture of Life Church has gone under water and two other churches threatened
Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Hundreds of residents in Abuta, a suburb of Asaba, the Delta State capital on Thursday fled for safety as flood waters submerged their homes in the coastal community along the bank of the Niger River.
The surging flood, it was learnt, came calling in the early hours of the day when residents were just rising from sleep and preparing for the day’s activities.
As at the time our correspondent visited the scene, most of the submerged houses had been deserted by the occupants who were said to have mobilised wooden boats and tricycles to evacuate their property.
No life was lost to the flood, but a magnificent building belonging to Pasture of Life Church has already gone under water, while two other churches, including Celica Church of Christ and a branch of Deeper Life, are seriously being threatened by the surging flood.
Workers at the Pasture of Life Church were busy salvaging what was left of the church’s property as they were dismantling the air conditioners mounted on the walls of the building.
A resident in the area, identified as Mama Faith, lamented that her children had not eaten for about 24 hours when the flood started, adding that there was simply no place to set up fire for cooking.
Another resident, Jonathan Okonkwo, said his apartment has been submerged, and that if the situation deteriorated further, he will relocate to ‘A’ Divisional Police Station with his entire household to seek refuge.
“When you came last week, the water was far away, but this morning, look at the length it has covered. Nobody is in this building as we speak. My room is full of water. And government is not listening to us. They are telling us to move out but where are we moving to? Where is the money to even move in the first instance?” Okonkwo queried.
Another resident, James, alleged that authorities as Oshimili South Local Government Area were insensitive to the plight of the people affected by the flood.
James, who was livid, alleged that some people under the guise of revenue collectors came to the area “and rather than sympathise with us, they told us that they came to enforce tenement rates as imposed by Oshimili South Local Government Area.
“They came here and were asking us to pay money as tenement rates. They even had the effrontery to lock up some houses that are yet to be visited by the flood. How wicked can a government be?”
Meanwhile, the state government had a fortnight ago urged residents in coastal areas to move to safer ground following the prediction by the Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency (NIHSA) of heavy flooding this year.
But the government appears not to have taken adequate contingency measures to cope with the looming disaster, as State Commissioner for Special Duties Ernest Ogwezzy said plans were just underway to establish emergency camps in Asaba, Kwale, Ughelli, Sapele and Warri.
Ogwezzy told officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) that the state government had identified possible safe grounds that could be used to set up Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and had also sent a memo to the governor requesting to stock its warehouse with perishable and non-perishable items to be used as relief items for the prospective victims.
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According to him, “As a result, the Delta State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) felt is expedient to inform all stakeholders in Delta State to ensure that they are on red alert and all hands on deck in preparing for the flooding that had already commenced as predicted by NIHSA, so as to reduce the effect of the flooding to the barest minimum.
“In addition to this, sensitization jingles to enlighten Deltans, particularly riverine communities, of the state on the dangers of the impending flood and for them to evacuate their homes is currently ongoing in the state.”