These are definitely not the best of times for the government and people of Anambra State, as they have continued to be at the mercy of the devastating effects of the recent menace of flooding which have swept across the council areas of the state. Daily Sun gathered that of the 21 local government areas that make up the state, almost seven council areas have been completely swept away by the fury of the flood.
The worst hit are those located at the bank of the river. The entire communities in Anambra East, Anambra West, Anyamelum, Oyi, Ogbaru, Awka North and Awka South as well as Onitsha North and South are no more. They have all gone with the flood and the residents have been turned to refugees in different makeshift camps provided by the state government.
For instance, the entire communities in Anambra East, the Umueze-Anam, Umueri, Otuocha and the rest have all been submerged by the flood while residents of the remaining communities fear that their communities might be submerged soon. The River Niger that overflowed its banks, as gathered, was responsible for the flooding at Ogbaru council areas where residents of nine communities were sacked. The river emptied its excess water into the helpless communities and destroyed their farmlands.
Daily Sun visited some of the affected communities in Ogbaru, Anambra East and Anambra West council areas. The nine communities that make up Ogbaru; Atani, Akiri, Osamalla, Ochuche, Ogbuakuba, Umunankwo, Ohita, Iyiowa and Odekpe have all been sacked by the flood while the remaining Okpoko community is seriously being threatened by the flood.
Livestock are not spared either, just as schools, churches and hospitals are all gone. Business activities have been brought to a halt. All the communities, including the major roads, are covered with water.
Residents move their belongings, including mattresses, from the submerged houses to safety while women and children have been evacuated to safety by the state government. Since the flooding commenced, several citizens, including members of the political class, businessmen and others from all walks of life have commiserated with the state government.
Many have been assisting the victims through provision of relief materials and cash donations to those in the refugee camps.
Among the first callers to the victims was Governor Peter Obi who, on seeing the level of devastation in the affected communities within Ogbaru and Anambra East and West, broke into tears. He visited Ossomala, Ochuche, Umuodu, Akili-Ogidi, Akili-Ozizor and Atani in Ogbaru Local Government area and Oroma Etiti, Ezi-Anam, (Umuikwu and Umudora), Umuenwelum, Umueze-Anam, Umuoba-Anam, Nmiata, Innoma, Ukwalla, Owelle, Igbedor, Odekpe, Odemagu, Nzam and Igbokenyi in Anambra West and promised to help the victims regain their lost items.? ? At both local governments areas, Obi condoled with the affected communities and assured them that the state would stand by them at a period he described as hopeless for them. After visiting the affected communities, the governor, in a broadcast to the state, expressed shock at what he discovered.
He said: “The level of devastation suffered by these communities is much more than what we were even told. Numerous farms were destroyed and washed ashore, while houses were submerged in the flood. Closer to the banks of the River Niger on Ogbaru area, the river has also caused a dangerous coastal erosion that has made the relocation of those living within the affected axis a necessity.”?? Though he said that the state government had taken immediate measures within her capacity, he urged the Federal Government to intervene by declaring the affected local governments ‘flood disaster areas.’
According to him, the Federal Government should embark on measures to manage the situation and save lives and property of the communities from further devastation. Also speaking when he visited the affected communities within Ogbaru, Anambra East and West, Senator Any Uba, representing Anambra South Senatorial District, consoled the victims of the disaster and donated over N10 million to them.
Uba while speaking at Atani, the council headquarters of Ogbaru, said though the calamity was not man-made, the entire people of the state would remain in a mourning mood for a long time because of the devastating effects of the flood on the residents of the area.
He said he decided to visit them personally after hearing about the disaster and said the Anambra flood remained the highest, adding: “the one we’ve been hearing is that of Kogi but unless you come as I have come today, you will not know that Kogi flooding is a child’s play.
“We are going to make sure that the plight of these people displaced from their homes by this unfortunate flood which did not spare their farmlands and livestock are included in the next budget to help them come back to their normal life.” For Dr. Obinna Uzoh, the entire episode remained a very unfortunate incident. The flood and other natural disasters, he said, have devastated the entire state. He enjoined residents of the affected areas to remain vigilant to forestall any loss of life and property. Uzoh described the recent development in the state as a clear sign that the state would soon be enveloped by famine.
According to him, “ the areas affected by the flood are the food basket of the state. For instance, the entire Ogbaru, Anambra East, West and Anyamelum have been the food hub of Anambra State and the flood has destroyed their farmlands, but we shall make sure we help them back to their best.” The philanthropist donated money and consumable items to the victims of the disaster.
He said he would return to access the level of damage and know the areas where they might need further assistance. Speaking to journalists after visiting some of the affected council areas that were affected by the flood, the leader of Anambra caucus in the National Assembly, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife said this year’s flood disaster affected so many communities in the state. Mrs. Ekwunife, who is also chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Environment, wept after visiting some of the communities in Anambra East and West, Ogbaru, Anyamelum and Awka North and South, describing the incident as unfortunate and painful.?
“The situation is unbearable, and as we watch our people and loved ones being displaced by this unfortunate flood, our hearts bleed and that is why we have come to personally access the situation and know the situation with a view to knowing how to help you bounce back to life and regain your homes.
“It is also most unfortunate that the worst hit of these natural disaster that has plagued us as a people is Ogbaru where every community was submerged by flood. We want to assure you that we are going to make a presentation in the National Assembly to how to help you,” she said.
Also speaking, the member representing Awka North and Awka South federal constituency, Mr. Emeke Nwogbo expressed sadness at the level of damage and the number of displaced persons at Awba Ofemili, Ugbenu, Achala and Ebenebe and said he would make sure the federal government comes to their aid. Nwogbo said some of the communities that were submerged by the flood would receive special assistance from the federal government through proper presentation.?Mr. Afam Ogene, representing Ogbaru federal constituency, also spoke on the condition of the people of Atani, Odekpe and other communities affected.
From EMMANUEL UZOR, Onitsha