Sunday Magazine

Nature’s fury: Flood sacks Anambra communities

 

Sunday morning at the homestead of Ozo Mathew Akeze in Inoma, Anambra West Local Government Area, has a routine of attending to domestic affairs while children prepare for church service.

 

But the routine was never to be as a more challenging issue woke the family up with house hold items floating on the surging flood and the members were oblivious of the danger that lucked in dead of the night when they retired to bed that Saturday night.

 

The Omabala River has over flown its banks and submerged about 25 buildings leaving women and children at the mercy of Mother Nature. Akeze narrates his experience: “It happens every year and we always get prepared for it. But this year we thought that the flood will not be much since we did not experience much rain fall.

 

“It took us unawares when it started early this August and as I speak to you we do not have access to our homes, except through canoe and most of our property have been swept away by the flood. “I had to take my family to my mother’s home in Nteje, Oyi Local Government Area. Mrs Ngozika Nwoye was indeed lucky to have her husband alive.

 

Her neighbours prevented him from committing suicide. They found him with a rope in his hand apparently attempting to take his life due to the devastation which washed away rice on 15 plots of land and another six plots of yam and cassava farms.

 

The reason was not farfetched. He had obtained a loan from the bank with interest to pay back after two years of cultivation and with the menace of the flood he cannot pay back the loan and for fear of being compelled to pay back or lose his collateral, he chose to end it all.

 

Mr Umunna Emenaka have just completed the roofing of his six bedroom apartment built with his pension and gratuity and was to commence the plastering of some of the rooms before tragedy struck.

 

Only few inches of the building can be seen from the roof top because the flood has become the only tenant in the building while Emenaka watched helplessly as there was nothing he could do.

 

This indeed captures the fate of families in the over 70 communities of Anambra East and Anambra West local Government Areas. The inhabitants of the Omabala River plane are predominantly farmers, fisher men and women and petty trading to earn a living.

 

The fate of these communities’ raises moral questions about the presence of government in the area as most of the towns can’t boast of power supply with a lot of shanties scattered in the midst of vast expands of farm lands and swampy rice farms.

 

Governor Willie Obiano is doing all to register government’s presence in the midst of his kit and kin. The road to Umueze Anam has become impassable due to the flood and that is the only major road to Nzam community, headquarters of Anambra West Local Government Area.

 

It is also a link to the Igala speaking people of Kogi State, who reside in Anambra. Towns such as Mmiata Anam, Umudora Anam, Umuigwu Anam can no longer be accessed and countless families are already trapped with no hope of getting assistance from anywhere.

 

The people of Ukwalla community in Anambra West Local Government Area are even worst off because they are located at the confluence of the River Niger and Omabala River as roads and bush paths can only be navigated with canoe. A youth in the area who gave his name as  Christian Nwanna told this reporter gory details of how he escaped the attack of a python who was also fleeing from the flood.

 

“I was transporting some of our property to a safe neighborhood when I saw one huge movement in the flood. I had to stop for a while but the reptile had seen me and he came after me only that it was swimming against the tide so it could not get to me.

 

“Once there is flood all manner of wild animals would surface and we are left with nothing to defend and protect our children. Most of the buildings are mud and when they are soaked they collapse.”

 

At Otuocha main market, the most popular market in Anambra East, West, Oyi and Ayamelum council areas is at the receiving end of the flood as market shops and adjoining buildings have all gone. Ngozi Okoye, a farmer with her canoe trying to get to her farm land.

 

She lost her cool when this reporter approached her for an interview. “What do you want? You government people every time flood comes you all will start coming and making promises that you won’t keep. Please leave us to our fate because we are used to it since we were born.

 

“Just look at my yams, my cassava. I have lost everything and even the ones I harvested are not even due for harvesting and we are going to manage it that way. Septuagenarian, Pa Emmanuel Ughamadu sat at the banks of the river watching farm produce being salvaged from the water.

 

He said: “As you can see this is a main road leading to Umori town in Anam but the road has been cut off by flood and we cannot reach out to our brothers and sisters in other towns.

 

“All my life we have always had flood but in the last six to seven years it has been different and every time the federal government would come here and make promises and we get nothing at the end.”

 

Ugbamadu’s lamentations speak volume of the level of National Emergency Management (NEMA’s) neglect. As at the time of this report NEMA was yet to set up the Internally Displaced Persons IDP camps and relief materials were yet to come.

 

So far the state government has commenced relocation of flood victims while awaiting the arrival of NEMA. Chairman, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Mr Paul Odenigbo explained that the agency is doing all it can to ensure that those displaced are given alternative accommodation and medical personnel are being deployed to places like Ogbaru, Onitsha North as well as the four Local Government Areas of Anambra East, West and Ayamelum.

 

 

At the office of NEMA none of the officials were ready to speak to reporters as one of the staff said that those in the office were not officially allowed to speak to reporters. The member representing Anambra East and West Federal Constituency Chief Chinedu Obidigwe had earlier reported the fate of members of his constituency to the body.

 

“We need permanent IDP camps in my constituency and we need relief materials for women and children and also medical attention for pregnant and old people. I have visited the agency several times and we are yet to receive anything from the federal government.”

 

 

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