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FG, Anambra partner over flooding calamity



WITH `State of Emergency’ now in place in four states, it is apparent the doom day is here with us.
Among states where the federal government declared state of emergency are Anambra, Delta, Kogi and Niger.
These are states close to the banks of two main rivers in the country – Niger and Benue. The flooding was a result of rising levels of water in holding dams around that corridor.
The Nigeria Hydrology Services Agency (NIHSA) and the Nigerian Meteorology Agency (NIMET) had earlier in the year predicted massive flooding in many zones as a result of heavy rainfall expected this year.
According to them, the menacing water level currently stands at 11.84 points and can get up to the 12.4 points mark – the level in 2012 that left incalculable damages and imposed heavy casualties in flood-prone communities.
The 2012 flood left many disasters in its wake – submerged many communities, washed away farmlands, destroyed economic trees as well as aquatic lives.
It also severely affected farm produce, displaced people massively from the original places of abode.
The current flooding which started manifesting early in September has already recorded disasters nearing the levels of 2012.
However, a major difference has been that in Anambra State, just like in many other states, there has been high level of awareness and readiness to cope with the disaster since the past five months.
Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra has hosted preparatory emergency meetings with stakeholder organisations.
The organisations are Anambra State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the security agencies – Army, Police, Navy and Civil Defence Corps – to outline strategies to cope with the looming disaster.
The meetings relied on early warnings and predictions by National Hydrology and NIMET to gear up for prompt intervention.
Chief Paul Odenigbo, Executive Secretary of Anambra SEMA, confirmed that Anambra State Government approved not less than 28 Holding Centres to mitigate the effects of the disasters.
He said that already, nine of such centres have been activated to take care of displaced persons, where they would be temporarily accommodated and catered for until the water receded.
Odenigbo added that the flooding followed a combination of factors – persistent heavy rainfall and the opening of the gates of Dams like Shiroro (Niger), Jebba (Kwara), Tigo (Kano) and Kainji (Kwara).
These dams have been forced by rising water levels to open their gates to release trapped water, so as not to compromise the integrity of the dams.
The most severely affected communities in Anambra are Anambra East and West, parts of Ayamelum and Ogbaru Local Government Areas.
Gov. Obiano and his deputy, Dr Nkem Okeke, have hardly rested since the disaster came knocking as they have been touring the affected communities.
They have been touring the areas to plead with trapped persons to evacuate to holding centres and re-assure victims of government’s resolve to assist them to mitigate the effects of their displacements.
They have ensured the operational take-off of the Holding Centres, as well activating feeding arrangements for the displaced.
A federal government delegation, led by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to Anambra and adjoining states, assured of FGs support with promise to step up relief efforts.
The Vice-President, who was received by Gov. Willie Obiano, was taken by helicopter to have aerial survey of the flooded communities mainly in Anambra East, Anambra West, Ogbaru, Awka North, Onitsha North and Onitsha South Local Government Areas.
He had a boat ride through one of the flooded communities, Umueze Anam, to ascertain the levels of damage done by the flooding and witnessed first hand, the living conditions of community members yet to relocate to holding centres.
Commiserating with the people, Prof. Osinbajo pledged the support of the FG in coming to the aid of Gov. Obiano and SEMA to provide respite.
Prof. Osinbajo observed that the livelihood of the people had been cut off, their farms submerged and homes run over by ravaging floodwaters; he expressed concerns over the living conditions of the people.
Prof. Osinbajo, at Umueze Anam, Anambra West LGA, witnessed some families evacuating their flood ravaged-homes.
He stressed that the FG had already declared the area disaster zone and would deploy more resources to alleviate the sufferings of the people.
According to the vice president, I flew over those disaster areas and witnessed the rise in water levels especially, in Onitsha, Ogbaru, Awka North, the Coscharis’ Farms and other places.
“I have directed NEMA to continue to deploy relief materials to various Holding Centres and settlements, even in areas, where some have refused to evacuate their homes,” Osinbajo said.
The vice-president noted that food and portable drinking water are the main priorities at the moment.
The vice-president also pledged that the FG would send in mobile water treatment plants to all affected communities and Holding Centres as quickly as possible.
He commended Gov. Obiano for prompt response to the situation.
The vice-president was accompanied on the tour by Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and Director-General, NEMA, Mr Mustapha Maihaja.
Traditional ruler of Aguleri, Igwe Christopher Idigo, used the opportunity provided by the touring vice-president to call on FG to partner hydrologists to provide lasting solutions to flooding.
He suggested the building of more dams that would absorb water from Rivers Niger and Benue when their intake water reached abnormal levels.
Anambra Government has also appealed to development partners to step in to offer any form of assistance they can render to provide succour to displaced persons, particularly the most vulnerable – women and children.
Anambra State Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, commended the FG on donation of relief materials for running of the holding centres in the state.
He appealed for more support from development partners, individuals and organisations, so as to improve conditions at the holding centres.
One of the victims of ravaging flood, Mr Friday Ekwuoba, a farmer, noted that it was regrettable that the flood, adversely affected his means of livelihood.
Mr Ekwuoba, who refused to evacuate from his settlement regardless of the flooding, pleaded for FG’s assistance to enable them to weather the `storm’.
The current wish is for the water to recede, so as not to rise any further to avoid further untoward calamities.

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