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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Flooding: Bayelsa, Anambra move to avert danger

The Bayelsa and Anambra state governments are taking steps to ensure that the anticipated flooding expected in some states does not have adverse consequences on residents.

Flooding in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State

Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information, gave the assurance on Thursday, September 13, 2018 in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa.

Similarly, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has advised the Anambra State Government to as a matter of urgency begin immediate evacuation of people living in the flood prone areas to the emergency shelter centres in the state.

Iworiso-Markson said that the Bayelsa government had stepped up activities to mitigate the anticipated flooding of states located on the lower basin of the River Niger, including Bayelsa.

The commissioner said that the state government, against the experiences of the 2012 flood, had set up a flood response team.

According to him, the team comprising of relevant government agencies will go around the state to monitor flood-prone areas and respond swiftly to any emergency situation.

The development is coming on the heels of the alert by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA) that nine states on the axis of River Niger and three others on the River Benue axis are set to experience floods.

Iworiso-Markson said the state government was partnering with stakeholders and experts, including the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), to ensure that flooding was put under control.

He gave an assurance that there was no cause for alarm given the proactive steps so far taken by the government.

The commissioner also said that the state government had provided a call centre with dedicated telephone lines to enable residents in the state report cases of high-water level in their areas.

He said that the mobile numbers to contact were 08025814636, 08110413567 and 09037582261.

The Bayelsa government had in 2012 set up a flood Management Committee headed by Chief Francis Doukpola to disburse the N500 million donated to the flood victims by Chief Mike Adenga.

According to Doukpola, the committee became moribund after the funds and N35 million take-off grant were allegedly depleted.

NAN investigations, however, indicate that many residents of coastal communities prefer flooding as their fishing vocation enjoy a boom during such incidents.

Mr James Agodi told NAN that despite the challenges associated with perennial floods, many pray for water levels to rise and overflow the banks with abundant fish.

“Those of us living near the riverside actually enjoy abundant fish catch during flood seasons as there is no need to go far to get fish.

“The flood waters carry a lot of fish and there would be a catch anywhere there is a net.

“Even those who are not engaged in fishing as their occupation return home at such times to fish.

“So, to us, the saying that there is an opportunity in adversity holds true,” Agodi said.

Mr Vincent Owen, Director of Planning, Research and Forecasting, NEMA, Abuja, gave the advice on Thursday when he visited Enugwu-Out in Anambra East Local Government Area in accompany of some staff of the agency and other stakeholders.

According to him, the weather forecast by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), that 2018 flood may come in same magnitude of the flood of 2012, should not be treated with levity.

Owen said that the update regarding the flood was so alarming, adding that all the indices during the 2012 flood were visible while the speed at which the river was rising needed urgent action.

“There is nothing to wait for in the evacuation of the people living in the flood prone areas in Anambra, the indices seen in 2012 flood have manifested in all the areas visited.

“In Ogbarua communities, all the towns have been affected by the flood, in Enugwu-Otu and Nkpundo-Otu, the story is not different,’’ he said.

Owen, however, said NEMA was committed to providing relief materials to all states affected by flood or other emergency issues in the country.

The director advised all the 12 states located in the flood prone areas to take the forecast serious while assuring of the agency speedy assistance, whereever the need might arise.

Owen said that the Nigerian Government has received a message from the Cameroon Government of its intention to open Lagoon Damns and ask for proactive measures by the affected states.

He said that if the forecast were not timely adhered to, the imminent flood shall be worse than the 2012 flood experience.

Owen said that the visit to flood prone states was to have first-hand information on the preparedness of such states in moving the victims to higher grounds and providing decent camps for the people.

He explained that the volume of water noticed in Ogbura and Enuwgu Otu was alarming and portends danger if not handled as quickly as possible.

Mr Cyprian Agupugo, Anambra Executive Director of SEMA, in his response, said that the state government had embarked on sensitisation and enlightenment campaigns on actions to be taken by the victims.

Agupugo said that the state had also made ready 28 emergency shelter centres in its flood prone areas and assured that other necessary materials would be provided.

He said that now that it was evident, that the flood was rising, displaced persons would be evacuated and taken to centres closest to them.

Agupugo commended NEMA for reiterating the warning and reassuring SEMA on its willingness to play its part to ensure that nothing hinders the success of evacuation and safe guarding of the people living in the flood prone areas.

Some of the residents who spoke during the visit said the flood which started around July had increased beyond their expectation this September and had destroyed their farmland.

Mrs Grace Oneh, a health worker, said that the flood had covered the homes of many people and that most of the victims had gone upland to stay with friends and relatives.

She appealed to SEMA to commence the distribution of relief materials, on time to avoid being too rowdy and be ready to alter the method by involving community leaders.

The NEMA team comprised members of the Red Cross Society and the Fire Service.

By Nathan Nwakamma and Joy Mbachi

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