Lawmaker, representing Ogbaru 2 State Constituency in the 7th legislature of Anambra State, Somtochukwu Udeze, has said that contrary to hyperbolic reports in some sections of the online media that many were feared dead in an ill-fated church building collapse at Ogbaru, he said such were unverified reports because nobody actually died at Madonna Catholic Parish, Iyiowa Odekpe, which collapsed few days ago.
Udeze, who had been touring his flood devastated constituency, providing relief materials and other forms of assistance to victims of the deluge, told our correspondent at Hon. Chuchu Onyema’s Internally Displaced Persons Camp at Iyiowa Idemili in Ogbaru,, that although Madonna Catholic Church Parish collapsed,there was nobody in the building when the incident occurred, adding that the only casualty was the security man whom he said was currently being hospitalised.
The lawmaker said that apart from the Madonna Catholic Church Parish tragedy, the level of flood devastations in his constituency were catastrophic because the entire constituency has been completely submerged by heavy flood from the River Niger, describing the whole situation as a monumental tragedy.
He said his family house at Atani has been completely consumed by the surging flood and that his constituents no longer access their houses unless they used boats and canoes and that the 2022 flood disaster was more than a nightmare.
Udeze stated that the anticipation was that the flood will not be up to the magnitude it has taken but the sad reality according to him, was that the flood level kept on increasing everyday and displacing more people and that over 80% of Ogbaru have been covered by water.
The lawmaker said: ” All the farmlands, all the houses, churches, roads, everywhere have been covered by flood. The news we received is that one of the churches in Ogbaru, Madonna Catholic Church collapsed. This is not the first because inside the villages, most of the buildings will collapse after the flooding. The situation is really tensed.
Virtually all the camps between Osamala, Ogbakuba, Obeagu, Atani and Odekpe have been submerged by flood. So efforts are being intensified to see if we can get them out to camps in the upland areas. Our prayer is that before the weekend, let the water stop increasing because if it keeps increasing, the next alternative will be to move them to Onitsha.
We have been going round on daily basis. It’s indeed a terrible situation. Our people are predominantly farmers. Most of them borrow money to farm. Now the issue of paying back their loans which is not covered by insurance and raising money to farm next year will serious challenges after the flooding. Those that have small businesses will find it difficult to start again.
This flood disaster will equally pose pyschological problems to kids, their parents and other people. We are appealing to the federal and state government to come to our aid because we are in dire need of help. ”
The lawmaker, who is the House of Assembly Committee Chairman on Public Accounts told our correspondent that lawmakers of riverine areas will jointly move a motion as soon as the legislature reconvened, for a special fund to be allocated in the budget to addressing flood disasters in the state.
He also pointed out that last year, there was an issue where money was not allocated to the Anambra State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) in the budget which he said stalled emergency response activities in the state.
According to him, legislators will ensure that more funds were allocated for emergency response in next year’s budget; that there should be a security plan to assist the people when situations like flood and other natural disasters occur.
He also made a special appeal for post flood management of the area especially as it concerns provision of agro-inputs to help peasant farmers start all over again while making another case for the state government to consider two farming seasons for Ogbaru people.
Udeze however, stated that the House of Assembly has passed the bill for the establishment of Riverine Area Development Commission into law.
Although he said the law was not accented to by ex-Governor Willie Obiano, the essence of the law he said was to galvanise funds from the federal and state government to help address issues of flooding in affected local government areas and also manage issues of flooding and other natural disasters that occur in riverine areas.