Over 12 Ondo communities bemoan lot aftermath flood
Following the torrential rainfall accompanied by flood which sacked about 12 communities in the coastal area of Ondo State, HAKEEM GBADAMOSI writes on the havoc wreaked on the areas, as residents solicit for government intervention.
As heavy rains descended on the coastal communities of Ese Odo Local Government Area of Ondo State over the past week, no fewer than ten communities were left devastated, with many people rendered homeless. Schools were suspended and all economic activities grounded.
No fewer than 12 communities, including Igbotu, the hometown of the mother of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu have been sacked from their homes following several days of downpour while Igbobini, Iluagbo, Sabome, Inikorogha, Oboro, Ojuala, Ipoke Igbekebo, the headquarters of the LGA, were also ravaged by the flood.
The flood, according to residents, paralysed commercial and social activities as well as human and vehicular movement in the area, while pupils were no longer able to access their schools. Hundreds of houses were submerged in water after the torrential rain, rendering thousands of the people in the area homeless.
Many of the residents who initially took refuge in churches and schools were sacked from these places and had to retire to the main road, erecting canopies on the roads where they now live, while waiting for the water to subdue before they can return to their homes. Besides, all the roads linking the communities including Igbobini-Irele road, have been cut off forcing the people to use canoes to access their destinations.
Speaking on the plight of the people of the community, Chief Isaac Akindola, from Igbobini, said the anguish of the people of the area started after torrential rain which resulted in flood. He explained that the flood started in the middle of the night when most residents had gone to bed, only to be woken by the arrival of the water in their homes.
He said: “Everything is in disarray in this community. The flood started in the night and no one could wait to pick any property. Some even left their kids behind.
“We took refuge in churches and schools, but by dawn, these places were also flooded, and we had to vacate the churches and schools too and relocate to the road. We call on the state government and other agencies to please come to our aid.”
He, however, said no fewer than 1,000 people have been displaced from the four quarters within the town.
In Igbotu, the hometown of the mother of Rotimi Akeredolu, a number of residents trapped in their homes were seen salvaging some of their submerged personal effects from the flood. Distraught residents, who spoke to our correspondent disclosed that they had never witnessed such flood in the community and called on the state government to rescue them from the situation.
A resident said several government officials had visited the community to ascertain the situation, but nothing had been done to solve the problem.
“The state government should save us from being wiped out by flood caused by rain. We have nowhere to go. The flood is giving us nightmare, especially when it rains here. Several houses and properties have been ravaged by flood. The situation is becoming unbearable, we appeal to the state government to save us from the negative consequences of this disaster,” the resident, who preferred anonymity, said.
Another victim, who spoke to Nigerian Tribune, Taiwo Ayesanmi, lamented that the disaster had left his family homeless. Giving an account of his experience, he said: “We are about 20 in the house, but we are now scattered. All my children have been relocated to stay with their grandmother. All I have has been destroyed; my fish pond has been washed away and we hope the government will come to our aid. Some people live in the open, and we want to call on government to relocate us.”
Another victim from Iluagbo, Peter Iji, said he lost his house and some of his belongings to the flood.
“This year’s flood was exceptional and the local government has never witnessed such, despite being in the coastal region of the state,” he said.
He stated that though the damage caused by the flood is massive, “we thank God that no life was lost in the disaster, but we must also tell our people to avoid erecting structures on the canal, while refuse should be disposed at the appropriate places.”
Another resident, Charles Awogbemi, disclosed that “Aside the residential houses destroyed by the flood, government and public buildings, which included schools, churches and health centers were also affected.”
He, however, explained that the state government had sent a delegation to the area to assess the damage done by the flood, just as he urged both the state and National Emergency Management Agency to intervene and assist the affected victims of the flood.
Speaking, chairman of the LGA, Mr Omolewa Ojo, said the anguish of the residents started after days of torrential rain which resulted in flood and confirmed that thousands of residents within the local government area had been rendered homeless.
He said many of the residents were trapped in their houses but were evacuated with canoes, while school children were prevented from going to school since last Wednesday. He also solicited the support of the state government as properties worth millions of naira were lost to the flood.
The chairman said he had visited most of the affected areas, but called for the intervention of the state government to help the victims of the flood.
“This year’s flood was exceptional and I don’t think we have experienced this kind of disaster in this area. Many of the houses were submerged in water, destroying properties. We appreciate God that no life was lost in the flood. Our people have been rendered homeless, and we need to take urgent steps because commercial and social activities have been paralyzed here,” he said.
The Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Akeredolu, Mr Jimi Kufo, who hails from Igbotu, said the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) would soon distribute relief materials to the people, while he cautioned people against building their houses along canals. He also warned against indiscriminate dumping of refuse on waterways.
Following the development, the state government has directed all public primary and secondary schools submerged in water in the area to embark on a three weeks’ break to ensure safety of lives of the pupils and students.
In a statement issued and signed by the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Donald Ojogo, the development became imperative in order to protect the lives of the pupils and students of the schools, and also to allow the water recede, as well as protect valuables from avoidable destruction.
The statement by Ojogo reads: “Following the flash floods that have affected most flood-prone communities, especially in the riverine areas of the state, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has directed public primary and secondary schools submerged in the floods to proceed on a three weeks holiday.
“This becomes necessary in order to forestall possible attendant incidents that may likely affect lives of vulnerable pupils in those areas as a result of the floods. It is also aimed at protecting valuables from avoidable destruction.
“All head teachers and principals are to enforce this directive; and in particular, ensure that all perishable educational materials are evacuated while government works out remedial logistics believing that the floods would recede within the period of the three weeks holiday.”
Meanwhile, Governor Akeredolu has constituted an adhoc committee to carry out an assessment tour of the areas affected and proffer solutions to the problem, and how to avoid future occurrences.
The committee, which was drawn from the two local government areas in the coastal region of the state, is also to ascertain the impact of the floods, number of communities affected, public property affected, and the extent of damage to communities.
They are also mandated to suggest measures that could assist the state in its pursuit for succour from the Federal Government through the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Akeredolu said: “The two committees must work together, while work should commence immediately.”
Members of the committee include Special Adviser on Niger Delta, Hon Oyebo Aladetan as the team leader; the chairman, OSOPADEC, Hon. Gbenga Edema; Hon. Lucky Ayedatiwa; Otito Atikase, chairman, Ilaje Local Government Area; Hon. Olumide Ikuepenikan, Commisioner, OSOPADEC and Hon. Felix Rawa, SSA, Riverine and Community Relations.
Other members of the committee for Ese Odo Local Government Area include Chief Olugbenga Ale, Chief of Staff to the governor as the team leader, Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo; Special Adviser, Health, Dr. Jibayo Adeyeye; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Hon. Omolewa Shadrack Ojo; and chairman Ese-Odo local government, Hon. Kele Bolodeoku, SSA Community Mobilisation.