Residents cry for succour as flood sweeps through Rivers, Bayelsa communities

By Chris Ezeonoh

Residents of flood-prone communities in Rivers and Bayelsa States are crying for help from government and corporate organizations as the seasonal flood ravages the communities.

In Rivers State, the areas worst hit so far are communities in Ogba Egbema Ndoni, Ahoada West and East Local Government Areas.

In Ogba, Egbema and Ndoni, over fifteen buildings have been submerged in Obakata community as at Thursday, displacing hundreds of residents in the area.

The Eze Eluoha of Obakata community in ONELGA, Eze Sunny Ogidi in an interview lamented that the flood has also sacked some residents in Usomini community and parts of Omoku.

The community leader also said farmlands in the area have been submerged by the flood while farmers are now using canoes to harvest premature food crops.

“There is no government presence here to help mitigate the suffering and losses incurred by victims of the flood.

“Many residents are now sleeping with one eye closed in fear of the flood.

“State government should listen to the cries of the people and come to their aid”, Eze Ogidi pleaded.

The story is the same in Bayelsa which experts say is situated below sea level. Even residents of the state capital, Yenagoa are not spared from the fury of the flood as areas like Amarata, Opolo, Yenizuegene and other adjoining communities have been heavily flooded.

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Unlike past years, the state government was not proactive this year to take some steps to open up some canals and outlets that were used to evacuate the surging flood.

The government has however shut down all primary and secondary schools in the state till November to ensure the safety of pupils, teachers and students.

The government on Thursday also said it has constituted a task force to mitigate the effects of flooding in the state.

A statement issued by the Governor’s Spokesman, Mr Daniel Alabra said the committee was set up during the weekly state executive council meeting on Wednesday which was presided over by the deputy governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.

The statement said the Commissioner for Environment, Mr Iselema Gbaranbiri, his counterparts from the ministries of Works and Infrastructure, Health, Lands, Housing and Urban Development as well as the commissioners representing the three senatorial districts and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) were members of the committee

The statement quoted Gbaranbiri as saying that the task force would urgently identify and inspect areas ravaged by flood as well as provide succour to victims.

He also said the task force would relocate affected persons to higher grounds and provide relief materials.

Also, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mr Moses Teibowei, said the government was aware of the flood situation in the state and set up the committee to alleviate the suffering of the people.

He added that beyond providing short-term relief for victims, the committee had the responsibility of proffering medium and long-term solutions to the issue of flooding in the state.

Teibowei said as part of efforts to reduce the impact of flooding, the government has built flood barriers in some communities, saying its officials will assess the effectiveness of such barriers before taking a decision to either replicate or improve on them in other parts of the state.

In Rivers State, however, the government has not made any pronouncement on how it would tackle the menace with a view to helping the people cope with the challenges occasioned by the deluge.

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