Gyang Bere, Jos
It was a deadly flood that caused immense pain, not just for the victims, but the entire community.
For residents of Zinariya community, Bauchi Road, in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State, it was a season of agony recently as floods wreaked havoc on the community.
There was a downpour on Wednesday, July 3, and it continued for long. At the end of the rains, many houses, property and even persons were swept away by the waters.
A six-year-old primary school pupil, Ibrahim Sani Bello, was among those washed away in the floods when a fence behind his family’s house collapsed. But he survived.
Ibrahim was relaxing a home on the fateful day along with his four-year-old younger sister, Hauwa, his aunt, Binta Jafaru, who was six months pregnant, and his five-year-old cousin, Fatima Jafaru, when the tragedy occurred.
Binta, a resident of Naraguta Village in Jos North Local Government Area, had been away to Taraba State and returned only a few days before the incident. She decided to visit her younger brother, Sani Bello, in Zinariya after returning from Taraba State.
It was gathered that she was about returning home with her daughter when the rain started, and she decided to wait for the rain to subside. They waited for some time but the rain wouldn’t relent. She then decided to relax on a mattress in the sitting room while waiting for the rain to stop. In the sitting room was her daughter, Fatima, as well as Ibrahim and his sister, Hauwa.
Sadly, the drainage behind the house was blocked, but they did not know. Left with no drain to flow into, the rainwater saturated the fence. When the fence became weak, it collapsed on the building, and the roof caved in. The floodwater inundated the house and swept Binta, the pregnant woman, Ibrahim, Fatima and Hauwa away.
It was gathered that little Hauwa, who was injured by the falling roof, screamed for help as the water rushed inside all the rooms with great force, and swept away the children.
Before anyone could render any assistance, the pregnant Binta, her daughter, Fatima, and Hauwa were dead. Only Ibrahim was rescued.
Ibrahim, who sustained head injuries, said it was God that saved him.
“I never thought I would survive,” he said. “It was God that saved my life. I can’t explain what happened.
“I saw water in the room and the water was taking us away. I could not talk, but my sister was crying and calling my mother. My father was not at home when the incident happened.”
Mother of the children, Hafisat, said she was cooking in the kitchen when she heard her daughter screaming for help.
“I didn’t know that there was a problem. I just heard my daughter screaming and shouting on top of her voice for help. I came out of the kitchen and I saw water everywhere. The house was destroyed and the fence behind the house collapsed.
“I was screaming while struggling to go into the room. The flood was overwhelming, but my children were crying. I summoned courage and went into the room, but the flood swept them away.
“I started struggling to come out of the room. The force of the water was too much. I held the roof of the house and went out through the window before people came to help us.
“My husband’s elder sister, Binta Jafaru, who came to visit us with her daughter, Fatima, died in the flood and I lost my daughter, Hauwa. But my son, Ibrahim, survived with head bruises.”
Hafisat added that another guest, Sa’adatu, who also came to visit, sustained injuries and was receiving medical attention at Faith Alive Foundation Hospital, Jos.
Father of the deceased children and owner of the residence, Sani Bello, was devastated. He explained that the plot of land behind the house had been there for several years without any form of development, apart from the fence that was erected there.
Bello said, “I don’t even know the owner of the land. Some people said he has been here to visit us but I have not seen him. I heard that he also said he didn’t know who blocked the water channel.
“The unfortunate thing is that I was not at home that fateful day. At least, if I was home, the situation wouldn’t have been bad like this. I believe the loss of lives would have been minimised. It is unfortunate. I don’t know what to do now.
“As we speak, I am homeless. My wife is taking refuge with her friends. The house was destroyed completely. I need to start the building from the foundation. Everything that was in the house was washed away in the water. But my pain is that I lost my sister, her daughter and my daughter. That is my greatest concern.”
Danladi Ibrahim Bello, who rescued Ibrahim, said most of the affected families were taking refuge in his house. He described the incident as unfortunate and said it was the first time such a disaster was happening in the community.
“We are sad over the flooding. The deceased persons have been buried, and we are trying to talk to the owner of the fence which was blocked, to know who actually blocked it.”
The senator representing Plateau North in the National Assembly, Istifanus Gyang, has provided some succour to the victims. He also cautioned residents not to erect structures on water channels.
Gyang, who was represented by former Minority Leader in the Plateau State House of Assembly, Mr. Daniel Dem, condoled with the family and urged community leaders to ensure a free flow of water during construction of their homes.
“What happened in this community is very unfortunate. It was flood that affected some houses and lives were lost. Senator Istifanus Gyang got to know of the incident and directed us to come and present succour to the affected families, which we have done.
“He was moved by the pathetic condition of the people who are homeless now and decided that we should come and donate some money for them to commence the rebuilding of the destroyed houses before he comes.
“What we have seen is very pathetic, especially as three people lost their lives. We thank God for saving the six-year-old boy who survived the incident. He was taken to the hospital, treated and discharged and he is doing well.
“The community has also come together to raise funds to commence the rebuilding of the destroyed structures. We have presented our assistance to the affected families.
“It is our desire that this community will not experience this again and we have always advised that when people are building, they should always give way for water to move freely without any obstruction,” Dem said.