Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
It was the second rain of the year. Many had thought the rain would bring succour and pleasure, considering the high temperature and heat being experienced in Akure, Ondo State.
However, what many had thought would bring pleasure eventually brought pressure the way of the residents. The rain, which lasted a few minutes that Friday, rendered 400 homeless, killed one person and left others injured.
Government, however, confirmed that only six persons were critically injured in Olu Foam, Omoniyi Estate and Igoba areas of the town, while in Oke Aro and Aga, victims did not sustain any injury but lost their valuables. While some of the houses were partially affected, many had heir roofs completely blown off.
Trees fell on some vehicles, even as schools and commercial centres were not left out. Churches and mosques in the area were equally affected.
The incident also resulted in total blackout as electric poles and wires were destroyed. But efforts are being made by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) to restore electricity.
Head of Gaga community, Mr. Oluwole Omotoso, urged Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to assist with relief materials: “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 said residents contacted the lawmakers representing the constituencies at the House of Assembly and National Assembly, but no meaningful result has been achieved: “Hence, the call on the state government and good-spirited individuals to assist us.”
Another resident, Helen, lost her property and now lives along with her children inside a church: “It has not been easy coping with the situation. I was not at home when the incident happened. My children who were at home called my attention to the unfortunate incident before I returned.
“We lost most of our valuables to the rainstorm and as a matter of fact we don’t have a place to sleep now. There is nobody to accommodate us. We live inside the church and church members provide food and other materials we need for us.
“The clothes we are wearing were given to us by members of the church. Government should please assist us to return home as soon as possible.”
Mr. Idowu Babalola, also a resident, said:
“Some friends have come to my rescue and that is why you can still find us here. Otherwise we would have relocated to 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 government and the National Emergency Maintenance Agency (NEMA) to provide succour for the victims: “Many of them are pensioners and petty traders who have no strong means of livelihood.”
When Daily Sun visited the residence of Faith Utobo, the 14-year-old boy who lost his life inside a church as a result of the rain, his father, Daniel, said he went to church for evening service when the rain started. His son died as a result of injuries sustained when the church building collapsed during the storm.
A community leader, Mr. Ayeni Abayomi, said: “What happened was beyond human knowledge and imagination. It started around 6pm it was very terrible. It destroyed over 80 houses in this area alone. Most of our properties have been destroyed.
“This is beyond our capacity, we thank God no life was lost but the damage is too much. The rain started and what we heard was a big storm. Our properties were destroyed. We lost many things here. I was inside the house but nobody died.”
Another victim, Afolabi Oluwatoyin, thanked God that nothing bad happened to her three children: “We were inside when it started. I am only begging for help to enable me have a roof over my head.”
A retiree, Femisola Olofinsawo, begged: “We need assistance because of the havoc caused by the rain. The shop I have has been blown off.
“It caused another havoc in another person’s house. We are pleading for the state and federal governments to come to our aid.
“The rain started and the next thing we heard was a heavy breeze and the houses started collapsing. There is nobody the thing did not affect. My own is not a problem but the houses of my neighbours.”