By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Governor of Bayelsa State, Mr. Seriake Dickson, yesterday ordered the immediate closure of all schools in the state to avoid loss of lives due to the current flooding in the state.
The governor also set up a special committee to facilitate prompt and effective response to the flood emergency in the state.
A large number of communities in almost all the local government areas had been seriously affected by the flooding, especially in Ekeremor, Sagbama, Ogbia, Southern Ijaw LGAs.
The decision to shut down the schools came even as the governor raised the alarm that over 70 per cent of the communities in the state is now submerged by the raging flood in the country.
He spoke when he took a tour of communities severely affected by the flooding with representatives of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), members of the state security committee, the Police, the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence.
Dickson said that the severity of the flood made the State Executive Committee and the State Security Committee to take a decision during their meetings on to close down all schools in the state with immediate effect to enable the management to take the students to their parents.
He described the flood as a major disaster which had affected the state with thousands of people rendered homeless.
The governor also identified some public premises which were not affected by the flood for immediate conversion to temporary internally displaced camps in the state.
He called on the federal government for urgent support to the state to combat the humanitarian challenges thrown up by the flooding emergency.
The governor observed that the coastal state which is below the sea level was omitted when the government declared emergency flood situation in four states – Kogi, Niger, Delta and Anambra – on September 18, 2018.
He argued that the flood situation in the state was inevitable as the entire state is below sea level with all the major rivers and tributaries through which water flows from the River Niger and Benue to the Atlantic Ocean passing through Bayelsa.
“Community after community, we have seen women, children and men managing to survive a very difficult situation. We appreciate the resilience of our people who are affected in the various communities.
“What has happened in this state is that about 70 per cent of our state right now is under water as we speak. Almost 70 per cent of our communities are under water now and people are now grappling for survival. What we have seen is really, serious, dangerous and touching. This is a major disaster that has affected the state.
“So, I want to call for immediate federal support to our state. We as part of our emergency and disaster management system, we have in place, a committee that has the security services working with the officials of the NEMA under the overall management of the Deputy Governor who reports to me” he said.
Speaking also, representative of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Kayode Fagbemi, said that having observed the situation in Bayelsa during the tour of the affected communities with the governor, he would report his findings to Abuja.
He said that the agency had sent 20 of its staff to the Bayelsa preparatory to the anticipated flooding in the state.
Fagbemi, who said that relief materials would soon arrive the state added that the agency was collaborating with its state counterpart to organise camps in the state.