As the nation anticipates more rains and flooding in October, it is important that the federal, state governments, and other stakeholders should intensify their campaigns on the dangers posed by flooding, especially for people living along riverine areas and flood-prone zones in order to reduce the havocs from the impending disaster.
By Benprince Ezeh
DESPITE the early warnings of the impending flooding this year by the relevant authorities, the country has been recording several deaths and destruction of houses and farms by flooding. For instance, on June 23, Tunji Bello, Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources in Lagos State, alerted Lagosians that the Ogun-Osun River Basin Authority would commence seasonal release of the Oyan River Dam, warning those living along the plains of the Ogun River to relocate.
Bello explained during his briefing that the controlled water release was due to the weather forecast and the continuous heavy downpour. “In July, five million cubic meters of water will be released, while by August, they will release eight to 10 million cubic meters of water. And in September, it will be increased to 18 million cubic meters, while on October, 23 million cubic meters will be released, which is the peak, then by November, gradual reduction of water release to the tune of 11 million cubic meters,” Bello said.
The commissioner noted that from the prediction of the Nigerian Meteorological Services, NiMET, released earlier in the year, the increasing frequency of extreme weather events indicated that the year 2020 would experience days with an extremely high amount of rainfall, which might result in flooding. He, urged Lagosians not to be afraid, saying the state government has mapped out strategies to contain the flood.
Unfortunately, flooding is ravaging the masses in Lagos State due to the blockage of drainage channels. In spite of the money spent in urban drainages, the state government is yet to do something about it.
And on June 22, a 19-year-old teenager simply identified as Ayisat, was reportedly swept away by a strong flood at Alapafuja axis, Surulere Low-Cost Housing Estate, Lagos, following torrential rainfall in the state. Her body was later found at Onilegogoro canal in Surulere.
In the wake of that tragic incident, the Lagos state government said that residents of lowland areas, such as Agboyi Ketu and Ajegunle, should relocate from their houses due to the heavy rain expected in the coming months. The government said this would forestall loss of lives and damage to properties that could result from the rain, which would intensify in August and September.
In Kwara State, three persons were reported missing after a heavy downpour on Saturday, September 19 in Ilorin, the state capital. One confirmed dead and two others yet to be found. The two persons, whose bodies are yet to be recovered were swept away at Taiwo Isale and Oko-Erin bridges in the metropolis.
“We worked all through the night, but up till Sunday, we have not found the two persons that were carried away at both Taiwo Isale and Oko-Erin bridges. The rain caused the death of one person at Ita Ogunbo area of Ilorin,” a worker at the state fire service said.
The heavy rain, which destroyed many houses started around 7:00 p.m and stopped in the early hours of Sunday. Areas worst affected included Olokonla, Bobonkiri, Egba-Akota, Aberi, Akuji, Idiope, Harmony Estate, Sobi, Akerebiata, and parts of Ibrahim Taiwo Road, all in Ita-Ogunbo area, Alanamu ward of Ilorin West Local Government area. The rainstorms also destroyed electricity poles in Taiwo and Odota areas.
On September 11, Bauchi State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, said that the flood killed 16 persons, destroyed 3,042 houses and several farmlands in the state.
Shehu Ningi, the Permanent Secretary of SEMA, said that 11 out of the 20 local government areas of the state were affected by the flood. “The affected local government areas include Shira, Dambam, Katagum, Jammare, Warji, Itas, Alkaleri, Bauchi, Zaki Kirfi and Gamawa,” he said.
According to him, farmlands and crops, including maize, millet, guinea corn, and rice were destroyed as a result of the flood. “The state government has directed the agency to provide relief materials to some affected communities in six local government areas.
“Relief materials provided to the victims include assorted food items, medicine, beddings, canoes, and temporary shelter. The affected victims have been temporarily relocated to various schools, mosques, and relatives’ houses,” Ningi said.
In the same vein, Kano State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, reported that four persons were killed and over 5,200 houses destroyed due to flooding in Rogo and Danbatta Local Government Areas of the state.
Sale Jili, Executive Secretary of the Agency, said that the Nigeria Meteorological Agency, NiMet had predicted flooding occasioned by heavy rainfall in 20 Local Government Areas of the state. He said that two persons lost their lives and 200 houses destroyed in Rogo, while two other persons and over 5,000 houses were destroyed by flood in Danbatta.
“We deployed assessment teams to the affected areas. We also visited Rogo and Danbatta to sympathise with the victims over the disaster.
“There are reports of flooding in the 44 LGAs of the state due to heavy rainfall this season,” he said.
According to him, the displaced persons are currently taking shelter with their relatives in the affected communities.
Flooding has become a yearly occurrence in the country.
For instance, in July 2012, 363 persons were killed and more than 2.1 million people displaced by flooding.
According to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, 30 of Nigeria’s 36 states were affected by the floods. The floods were termed as the worst in 40 years and affected about 7 million people. The estimated damages and losses caused by the floods were put at about N2.6 trillion.
In Africa, the United Nation’s, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, said that Sudan was hit heavily by flood in mid-July. It was reported that 650,000 people were affected by flash floods caused by heavy rains.
Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission, HAC, was said to have reported that 650,000 people had been affected by floods in 17 out of Sudan’s 18 states, more than 111,000 houses were either destroyed or damaged.
Floods also destroyed 1,700 ha (4,200 acres) of agricultural land, 179 public facilities (schools, health centres, and government offices), 359 shops and warehouses and killed 5,500 head of livestock.
More than 110,000 people have been affected by floods in the first week of September alone,” OCHA reported.
Across the globe, two states in the United States, Alabama and Florida were reportedly hit by Hurricane Sally, which made its way inland after making landfall as a Category 2 hurricane near Gulf Shores, Alabama, on September 16, 2020.
The storm dumped almost 30 inches (762 mm) of rain in Orange Beach, Alabama, and 24.80 inches (630 mm) in Pensacola, Florida in a 72-hour period, according to National Weather Service, NWS.
The torrential rain has increased river levels in the area, which are likely to remain high for some time. As of 18 September, rivers were above Moderate Flood Stage in 9 locations in southern Alabama and western Florida Panhandle. Media reported severe flooding from the overflowing Fish and Perdido rivers.
The Shoal River near Crestview in Florida reached 16.42 feet on 17 September, well above Major Flood Stage of 15 feet and the second-highest crest on record behind the 21.40 feet from September 1998.
NWS Mobile warned that “river flooding will persist through at least this weekend for portions of southwest/south-central Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle.”
Officials in Orange Beach, Alabama, said one person had died and another was missing as a result of the storm. Emergency crews were called on to rescue or evacuate hundreds of people along the Gulf Coast, in particular in Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, Florida.
Almost 500,000 homes and businesses are without power in Alabama and Florida. Strong winds, storm surge, and flooding have damaged roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. Sally has weakened into a tropical depression and is forecast to weaken further as it moves over Georgia and the Carolinas.
As we approach October, Nigerians and many around the world are scared of what it would bring because it is expected that rainfall will increase, if this happens, more lives and properties may be lost. Therefore both the federal and state governments need to clear the drainage, relocate those living in danger zones, and increase the awareness of the dangers of flooding among Nigerians.
– Sept. 25, 2020 @ 14:35 GMT |