River Niger Floods Submerge Houses, Churches in Delta

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Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

Thousands of residents living on the banks of River Niger in Asaba, Delta State, have fled their homes and evacuated their belongings due to rising tide from the Niger that has inundated many houses, churches, business premises and streets.

The river last week overflowed its bank due to persistent rainfall in Asaba in the last few days, which residents said, worsened the situation for the residents of Asaba including Infant Jesus area of the state, thereby displacing scores of residents from their homes.

Abuta quarters, which lies on the bank of River Niger is one of the areas badly hit by the rising water of the river as residents have mobilised tricycles and wooden canoes in their apparent desperation to escape from the looming disaster.

The pastor of Pasture of Life Christian Assembly, one of the buildings heavily flooded in the Abuta quarters by Thursday, when THISDAY visited the area, was busy evacuating whatever he could savage with the help of some members.

The minister, however, declined to talk with our correspondent, saying simply, ‘’I am very busy as you can see.’’

Deeper Life Bible Church (DLBC) and Celica Church of Christ buildings in the area were also deserted alongside other residential houses in the area as they had been submerged by Thursday evening. Some residents said they had already moved their valuable things to safer areas in higher parts of the city and neighboring communities.

A wooden canoe was being used to ferry household items from a compound with several houses in flooded neighborhood of Abuta about 200 metres from a new generation commercial bank on the ever-busy Nnebisi Road, Asaba.

A woman, who identified herself simply as Mama Faith, said she started evacuating their family and property on Wednesday as the rooms and parts of their houses were completely taken over by water coming in from the Niger.

Mama Faith lamented that her children had eaten nothing since Thursday morning because they were moving out things from their houses. “There is no place to cook since last night…. Water has covered the whole house, and we have worked all night moving things from the flooded rooms.

Although the residents said they knew that the water was from River Niger, some of them claimed ignorance of repeated warning by the state government and the relevant agencies on the coming flooding experience and the need for people to move out of low-lying, flood-prone areas in time.

The Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NHSA) has for some time now alerted Nigerians particularly in flood-prone areas including Delta, Anambra and Kogi states, to impending flooding that might compare to the disastrous flooding in Nigeria in 2012.

In readiness for the impending flood as predicted by the NIHSA, the Delta State Government is to establish emergency camps in Asaba, Kwale, Ughelli, Sapele and Warri. The Commissioner, Bureau for Special Duties, Mr. Earnest Ogwezzy, disclosed this when the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) paid him a courtesy visit in Asaba on Wednesday.

Ogwezzy disclosed that the agency in its preparedness plan, 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 to the prospective victims.

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 on-going in the State” he said.

He warned of steady daily rise in the water level in Rivers Niger and Benue which could result in fresh flooding in riverine communities on the banks, adding that the magnitude of such flooding was likely to be compared with the one of 2012.

The commissioner said he had been receiving updates concerning the impending flood from various communities across the state to guide the Bureau’s operations.

The local government areas likely to be affected by the flood, according to him, included Oshimili South and North, Isoko South and North, Warri North, Warri South West, Udu, Sapele, Ndokwa East, Ndokwa West, Ughelli South, Bururu, Patani, Aniocha South and Bomadi.

Already, cases of flooding have been recorded in the state as some communities lying along the flood plain of the including Akaria, Abala-Oshimili, Abalagada, Utchi all in the coaster communities in Ndokwa East Local Government Area had been flooded.