FLOODS OF Tears in Ondo, Ekiti as downpour

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The last few weeks have been sorrowful for many residents of some Ondo and Ekiti communities who have had to battle heavy downpours that rendered them homeless, DAMISI OJO and RASAQ IBRAHIM report

FOR the people of Ilaje and Ese- Odo local government areas of Ondo State, the 2019 floods may turn out to be a once-in-a-generation incident.

Ibini Obolo is a native of Igbotu, Ese- Odo local council. According to the story told him by his grandfather, the last time the people witnessed a flood like this was in 1962.

“I remember what my grandfather told me. The last time we had a very serious and devastating flood like this one was in 1962. According to my grandfather, that year’s flood was very devastating as well as destructive.”

While the 1962 floods were destructive for Obolo’s grandfather, the latest floods made it two times that floods would wreak havocs in Obolo’s family. His entire fishing pond business, which he put at more than N2 million, was washed away while he looked on perplexed and unable to do anything.

“I am a fish farmer. It is from this business that I train my children in the university and feed my family. I have more than N2 million investments washed away by the floods,” Obolo said. Across the state, the people of the areas are regarded as not being strangers to water, but the deluge of flood water occasioned by the recent rains have turned most of the residents of the areas into refugees in upland communities around.

More than one week after the intensity of the rains have subsided, the people have continued to count their losses. The rain, which is usually received with joy and excitement by the people, became destructive and devastating as the torrential heavy downpour, which lasted for several hours, displaced thousands of people and destroyed multimillion worth of properties.

According to the people, the devastating floods that accompanied the rain, caught many residents unaware. The people were in their sleep and were woken up by the flood on the fateful day around midnight. Many communities were submerged, while public facilities like primary and secondary schools, health facilities, banks and hotels were taken over by water.

Many houses were completely washed away by the flood, while other valuables such as mattresses, clothes, electronic appliances, foodstuffs, among others, were also lost.

Most of the residents in the affected communities are seeking refuge on major roads upland, where they now cook and sleep because, according to them, there was no alternative. Victims, who spoke with newsmen, appealed to the state and federal governments to come to their aid by providing relief materials for them and to construct embankment around the affected areas.

Some residents wading through flood

“I have not slept in my room for three days since Thursday. It has been flooded. There is water everywhere and I have nowhere to go,” Monday Ogbolo, a resident of Igbokoda, said.

Displaced residents whose belongings and valuables such as mattresses, clothes, electronic appliances and foodstuffs were damaged, were seen cooking on the road and sleeping under makeshift tents. Nonagenarian Mabel Ojute, a resident of Igbotu, which incidentally is the governor’s mother’s town, described the situation as hopeless. The old woman said she woke up and found out that her house had been taken over by water. She barely made to safety when the building collapsed.

“l was in my sleep when I felt an unusual coldness in my body and I quickly got up. Before I knew what was happening, the entire house had been filled up with water.

I began to shout for help, calling the people around for help. I also heard some other people in the communities whose houses have been submerged by flood calling for help. I rushed out of the house shouting, but soon after my house came down. I am lucky to be alive. “I began to cry because I have nobody to help me; I have nothing left behind. The flood has destroyed everything I have. So, I am appealing to government to come to my aid. As I’m talking to you now, most of us have nowhere to lay our heads. Since the incident happened, we have been sleeping on the roads upland our communities,” the old woman said. Madam Ojute is not alone in the cry for help and government’s intervention.

Mrs. Mobolaji, the Iyaloja of Igbotu, urged the government to come to the aid of the people. She added that the people of the community have been rendered helpless and homeless. “This year’s floods have destroyed all that we laboured for all our lives. Many people have been rendered homeless, while those whose houses are still standing cannot access them because they have been taken over by water.”

The Agadagba of Arogbo-Ijaw, Oba Zaccheaus Egbunnu, while appreciating the government’s quick response to the cry of the people, noted that his community was completely on lockdown, as buildings and roads have been submerged by the devastating flood. The Ondo State government is hearkening to the cries of the floods victims. Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu quickly assured the people of his administration’s support by setting up a twomember committee to visit the areas. The committee is expected to ascertain the extent of damage and come up with recommendations on how to mitigate the effects of the natural disaster on the victims as well as damaged property and equally advise on how to avert future occurrence in parts of the state.

The Chief of Staff to the Governor, Chief Olugbenga Ale, who led the committee on an on-the-spot assessment visit to the affected communities, assured the people of government’s support. Other members of the committee include the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Donald Ojogo; Special Adviser to the Governor on Health, Dr. Jibayo Adeyeye; Special Adviser to the Governor on Niger Delta, Hon. Oyebo Aladetan; OSOPADEC Chairman, Hon. Gbenga Edema and Hon.Lucky Ayedatiwa. The committee visited the headquarters of the two council areas, schools,  hospitals, palaces, banks, churches, filling stations and residential houses in affected by the flood in Ilaje and Ese-Odo local government areas. Addressing the people at Igbokoda, the headquarter of Ilaje Local Government Area, Chief Ale regretted that the devastation caused by the floods was beyond what the Ondo State government could single-handedly address.

He, however, assured that Governor Akeredolu would work to secure the attention of Federal Government through the National Emergency Maintenance Agency (NEMA) to come to the aid of the affected people. “We are here on the order of Mr Governor to identify passionately with our people as a result of this unfortunate incident and to take stock of the damage to their property. Despite the devastating nature of the flood, we are glad no life has been reported lost. “We are expecting NEMA to come to the aid of the people, but it will depend on the quality of the report we are preparing, which will convince them to assist the individuals and corporate bodies affected,” Ale said. Governor Akeredolu also directed that all schools in the affected areas proceed on a three-week recess pending when the water would recede. The directive, according to the governor’s chief of staff, was to ensure that the children are not exposed to the dangers of the floods. “The governor has directed that school children in the affected areas go on holidays.”

The Olu of Igbokoda, Oba Afolabi Odidiomo, whose palace was also overrun by the flood, attributed the unfortunate incident to global warming and construction of structures on waterways. He demanded the timely demolition of such buildings to avert future occurrence in the town and other parts of the areas. The royal father suggested the construction of embankments in Ayetoro and Awoye communities to curtail the Atlantic Ocean from washing away the two local government areas in the near future.

The Agadagba of Arogbo-Ijaw, Oba Zaccheaus Egbunnu, while appreciating the government’s quick response to the cry of the people, noted that his community was completely on lockdown, as buildings and roads have been submerged by the devastating flood. Across the two local government areas, the flood victims appealed to governments at all levels to come to their rescue by providing necessary relief materials for them to cushion the effects of the natural disaster.

A road carved in

The victims made the separate appeals during the visits of the state government assessment committees to the flood ravaged communities to both Ese- Odo and Ilaje council areas submerged by floods. Some of the communities devastated by the flood in Ese-Odo local government council include Pinama, Tehagbene, Biagbene, Adolosemon 1-3, Ebikiri Model College, Opunama High School,Ajapa, FAC Primary HealthCare Centre, Ajapa, Amatebe, LA Pry School, Bolowo, Ukparama Grammar School Bolowo, New Jerusalem, Arogbo, Agadagba-obon, Igbobini, Sabomi, Igbotu and Oluagbo among others.

The story is the same in all the communities visited as all the communities, including primary and secondary schools, health facilities and churches, were totally submerged by floods, sacking all the residents and school children in the affected areas. Displaced residents whose belongings and valuables such as mattresses, clothes, electronic appliances, and foodstuffs were badly affected were seen cooking on the road and sleeping under makeshift tents. Ekiti victims count losses IN Ekiti State, rainfall is fast becoming more of aD curse than blessing on account of the resultant flash floods. Recent downpours in the affected communities have left tears in its wake and thrown many of the residents into misery.

The rains, which commenced around February, have already taken their tolls on many communities in the state. Ado- Ekiti, the state capital, has been the worst hit. Many houses, shops and vehicles have been destroyed while human lives were also lost in the worst case scenario. In particular, the rains that fell in Ado- Ekiti on September 30 and October 9 left a lot of losses in their trail. The affected areas include Emirin, Omisanjana, Egbewa, Olorunsogo, Olurunda, Ajebandele, Badiri and Ureje. The victims watched helplessly as their properties were destroyed and swept away. The September 30 torrential rainfall, which began around 7.30 pm and lasted till 9 pm, destroyed the more than 100 years old Ureje Bridge on the ever busy Ado/Ijan/Ikare highway. The bridge, which connects the state capital with other adjoining communities, became flooded while the road was rendered impassable.

The road, incidentally, is the only one linking Ado Ekiti with Afe Babalola University, the Federal Polytechnic and Ikare Akoko in Ondo State. The biggest loss, however, was a middle- aged man that was swept away by the flood. The deceased man was said to be returning from a trip to Abuja when he met his untimely death at his point of destination. The Nation gathered that he was warned by the people in the neighbourhood not to dare walking through the flood but he did not listen. The death toll would have been more but for the exploits of a brave and kindhearted Hausa man who deployed his swimming skills to rescue some would be casualties who were already overwhelmed by flood while trying to find their ways. The Public Relations Officer of the Ekiti State Police Command, Caleb Ikechukwu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, confirmed the death. “Yes, I can confirm to you that one man died after

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