•Valuables worth over N500m destroyed
• We’re not aware –SEMA
From Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
The people of Okposi community in Ohozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State are counting their losses following a midnight downpour that caused heavy flooding in the area.
Penultimate Saturday, residents had concluded their normal daily and business activities and retired to bed.
But at about 11pm, the heavens opened up and visited them with heavy shower.
The rainfall which lasted for several hours caused severe flooding that eroded most homes, business premises, mortuary, farmlands and others; destroying whatever that was within its reach.
Some of the residents said the rainfall which would have brought them happiness as it cooled the weather instead brought them sorrow and agony. No few than 50 families were affected.
When Oriental News visited the community, which is about one-hour drive from Abakaliki, the state capital, many families were still drying their soaked household items in the sun.
At the General Hospital Mortuary, residents said bodies were washed away.
They said that they were greeted by the scary scene of floating bodies in the morning.
Mrs. Nnenna Nwali, a trader resident in Okposi-Achara village, said they had gone to bed when the flood invaded their home and shop, destroying everything it came in contact with.
She was particularly thankful to God for saving her two kids from drowning.
“It was even our neighbour that woke us up, screaming that flood would carry our children away. Our six children were sleeping in another room. Truly, our children were almost drowned. In fact, they were gasping for breath. They were in a different room. Flood had invaded everywhere and soaked our foam. Everything in our rooms was destroyed. If not God, I wonder what fate would have befallen our children. All our valuables were washed away because as soon as we opened the door, the surge pushed away many of our valuables.
“The flood that besieged both my home and shop reached the window level. Many of my utensils were washed away to an unknown destination. My neighbour who sells stockfish lost heavily as well as several bags of stockfish were damaged. The other man who trades in cement lost about 25 bags,” she lamented.
While heaping blame on the contractors, Mrs. Nwali expressed sadness that when the affected residents brought the matter to the road builders, they scoffed at them instead of showing sympathy.
“We are glad that the government is constructing our road. But the contractor failed to carryout environmental impact assessment. If he did, I do not think this flooding would have occurred.
“You see, he should have considered the terrain to know the appropriate flood channels and size of gutter that would fit in. To worsen the matter, they filled up the gutters with sand. Where did they expect the flood to pass through? It was the same Saturday that they filled up the gutters with sand that this flooding happened. It rained heavily that day.”
Manager of the General Hospital Mortuary, Obioha, Okposi, Mr. Charles Ude, lamented that the flood wreaked havoc in the morgue.
“The flood invaded the mortuary and wreaked havoc. It carried away many of our working materials, including a fully filled 70-litre gallon of chemical we use in the mortuary. Our two goats in the mortuary premises were drowned.
“In my view, what caused this flooding were the gutters. They were two small for the flood to flow through. They couldn’t contain the large volume of flood water,” he pointed out.
At the residence of Mr Chukwudi Nwokorie in Ameluagu village, Okposi, the situation was pathetic. Although the flooding had occurred about four days after, remnants of flood were still seen in the premises.
Also, the mark of the flooding, which reached window level was still very visible. Sympathisers were still trooping into their home located along the Amasiri-Okposi-Uburu road to sympathise with the family over the unfortunate situation.
Nwokorie, who retired as deputy director of Schools, Local Government Education Authority, Okposi Local Government, while conducting our reporter around his house, lamented bitterly that their losses were enormous.
Like the others, he condemned the road contractors.
“For over 20 years I have lived here with my family, this kind of thing has never happened. When they started constructing the road I was quite happy. But the way and manner the construction work is being executed, especially the gutter caused the flooding. At the moment, we are living at the mercy of the people. It’s a terrible situation. Even, two of my grandchildren would have been drowned,” he added.
Corroborating his father-in-law, Mrs. Chioman Ogbonna, painted a gory picture of the tragedy that befell them.
“The flood reached my waist level and I had to tie my son to my back. For three hours, I stood, carrying him on my back. It was highly risky to bend down or move about because you don’t know if the flood brought snakes and other dangerous reptiles along with it.
“We left our son on our 20 inches foam and waded through the flood to other rooms trying to figure out what to do. At our second room, it wreaked havoc. My husband’s friend who is billed to wed in October gave him some money to print invitation cards, book the Deejay, gospel band and some other things. That money was washed away.
“At our shop, the flood damaged a lot of things. All my brothers-in-law are all graduates. Same are their wives. It is sad that some of their certificates were washed away. Our losses are just unquantifiable. Or are we to talk about the emotional and psychological trauma it caused us?” she lamented.
At Mebi/Amaeke village, Okposi, the situation was the same. A widow in the area, Mrs. Theresa A. Okoro, painted a gory picture of her loss.
“We were actually saved by God because the flood came unexpectedly. Many things were destroyed in my home. At my farmland, my food crops were destroyed as well. At my shop, it was the same bad fate,” she said.
Although she was thankful to Governor Dave Umahi for embarking on the road construction, she was of the view that the flooding would not have occurred if the contractor had done a more diligent work.
Mr Uchenna Anoke, a trader from the same village, Mebi/Amaeke, was another victim.
The father of two lamented that save for God’s mercy, he would have lost his two children to the flood.
“We need government’s assistance,” he said.
Meanwhile, the residents alleged that the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has not responded to their calls for assessment and assistance.
When contacted, the Executive Secretary of SEMA, Pastor Ken Nwabueze Ozioma-Eze said that the agency was not aware of the situation.
He said they would move to the community to assess the level of damage and take appropriate actions.
“I am hearing about this thing for the first time. We are not spirits and we depend on people to get information of this nature. We have government officials from that area who should have brought these things to our attention. Nonetheless, we will take up the matter,” he promised.
Efforts made to reach the Commissioner for Works, Fidelis Nweze, to react on the matter as it affects the road construction proved abortive as he did not pick several calls made to his mobile phone.