Lagos, Edo, A’Ibom, Ebonyi plan camps for flood victims

…put measures in place for security, Sokoto, Delta to relocate residents from flood-prone areas

NEMA mum as floods ravage 10 states

Some state governments are planning to set up camps for residents displaced by the current flooding ravaging several communities in the country, Saturday PUNCH can confirm.

This is as no fewer than 10 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, have either experienced various degrees of flooding, or recorded casualties as the rains intensified.

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof Joseph Utsev, who issued the red alert during a press briefing in Abuja, warned that 21 more states might experience flooding.

He stated this against the background of the downpour on Wednesday, which grounded business and commercial activities in Lagos and Ogun states.

The resulting flooding brought down a two-storey building in the Mushin area of Lagos and overwhelmed residents, while pupils could not attend schools in parts of the state. Additionally, a pupil was swept away by the flooding in the Ketu area of Lagos.

Utsev explained that the Annual Flood Outlook by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency, released in April, had predicted that 148 local government areas in 31 states fell within the high flood risk areas.

The affected states include Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Kebbi. Others are Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, and Yobe.

We may reopen IDP camps – Lagos

Reacting to the recent flooding, the Lagos State government said it may reopen its camps to accommodate victims displaced by the flood.

The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, disclosed this in an interview with Saturday PUNCH.

This comes on the heels of the Federal Government’s warning to states to brace for more floods.

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation had issued a red alert to 21 states, warning that they might suffer flooding.

The warning came against the background of Wednesday’s downpour, which grounded business and commercial activities in Lagos and Ogun states.

Speaking on the preparedness of Lagos State for flooding, Oke-Osanyintolu advised residents living in flood-prone areas to temporarily relocate. He added that the government would commence the demolition of structures along water channels.

“What we are experiencing in Lagos is a flash flood. This means when it is raining, people have to stay in a safe place.

“Then, after the rain is over, they can start moving about.”

He also appealed to Lagosians to abide by these rules and regulations.

He added, “In Lagos State, we are being empathetic. We don’t talk about demolition; what we are doing is to ensure that we remove any form of obstruction that can lead to flooding in any area.

“If a building is constructed in such a way that it impedes the free flow of water, it will definitely be removed. “This is what the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources is doing, in collaboration with the building control agency.”

Oke-Osanyintolu also noted that Lagos had some permanent relief camps in several areas in the state.

“We have one in Lagos West, at Igando. We have another in Agbowa. All these show that we are ready for any eventuality.

 “If need be, we will open these camps. We have done it before, in 2010. We opened the camps to take care of people that were displaced. In 2012, we opened the camps again for displaced people. So, if need be, we will do it again.

“Residents living in vulnerable areas need to leave, and those who built their structures in such a way that prevents the free flow of water should relocate,” Oke-Osanyintolu noted.

Ebonyi plans relocation

The Ebonyi State government stated that it has already provided a place for displaced residents to stay during the flooding. The state government also warned residents in flood-prone areas to be conscious of their actions and avoid practices capable of endangering their lives amidst the current incidents of flooding in the country.

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The state emergency management agency also disclosed that it had been organising sensitisation campaigns to alert residents of measures to adopt to prevent flooding in their environs. The Public Relations Officer of the SEMA, Mr Donatus Nwebonyi, in a telephone interview with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, said, “The Ebonyi State Government has already provided a place for those likely to be affected by flooding in case of any emergency.

“However, we are still expecting some relief materials from Abuja through the National Emergency Management Agency for those who have already been affected.

“NEMA usually provides relief materials for people affected by natural disasters.”

He added that four local government areas in the state had been predicted as flood-prone in 2024 by the Federal Government. These four local government areas are Abakaliki, Afikpo, Ikwo, and Izzi.

A’Ibom issues red alert

As part of measures taken to tackle flooding in the state, the Akwa Ibom State Government said it had reactivated its Emergency Protocol Management System and commissioned a trip to the estuaries to assess the state of the banks.

The State Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Ini Ememobong, who spoke with one of our correspondents in Uyo, said the state had also reactivated the health protocol required to address all health issues arising from flooding. He said, “We have reactivated the Emergency Protocol Management System, meaning that gutters and drainages must be desilted, which is why you see that sanitation exercise is ongoing.

“We commissioned a trip to the estuaries where the banks are to assess their condition, and have reactivated the necessary health protocols because, as you know, as soon as flooding occurs, it becomes a health issue. Agriculture, internal security, and information departments are on board to ensure that emergency issues are tackled.”

Edo’s plan

The Edo State Commissioner for Public Safety and Security, Kingsley Uwagbale, has said that the state will review and update its flood management plan from last year to combat incidents of flooding. He noted that Edo State did not experience flooding last year and that the state would study this year’s flood projections to enable it tackle the issue.

He said, “We will do what we did last year and ensure that people in areas prone to flooding are either evacuated, or we put in place enough resistance to contain the flood.

“There was no flooding in Edo last year, because we implemented our flood management plan. This year, we will review that plan vis-a-vis the predictions and see if we are exposed or not. If we are exposed, we will address those areas, but I can assure you that Edo State is prepared for flood management.”

Kaduna sensitises citizens

Meanwhile, the Kaduna State Government, through the State Emergency Management Agency, has convened a meeting of stakeholders to analyse the 2024 Annual Flood Outlook released by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency.

The Chief Press Secretary to the state governor, Mohammed Shehu, said the state had embarked on sensitisation of communities in flood-prone areas, using traditional and religious leaders as well as other stakeholders to educate residents on the dangers of flooding, and how to avert natural disasters.

Additionally, the governor’s spokesman mentioned that the state had set up a mobile court to prosecute residents who indiscriminately dump refuse in drainages. Shehu also stated that his principal had approved the purchase of relief items to be prepositioned as part of preparedness against any flood incidents.

In an interview with Saturday PUNCH in Kaduna on Friday, Shehu said, “KADSEMA has activated its contingency plan, which is a state working document on emergency preparedness and response. The document outlines the responsibilities of each stakeholder. A template is prepared to gather information on the level of preparedness of each stakeholder towards mitigating the impact of the flood in 2024. KADSEMA has trained its volunteer divers and held a series of simulation exercises across the state and vulnerable communities.”

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Anambra warns 11 LGs

The Anambra State Emergency Management Agency has issued early warning signals to residents of flood-prone communities in the state to avoid injuries and the loss of lives and properties. The Public Relations Officer, SEMA, Chinyere Nwoye, said the devastating impacts of floods in Anambra over the years, especially in 2012 and 2022, had served as a wake-up call to residents and critical agencies to collaborate with NEMA and SEMA to manage flood disasters and their associated hazards.

Nwoye listed the flood-prone communities to include Ogbaru, Anambra East, Anambra West, Ayamelum, Idemili North, Onitsha North, Nnewi North, Idemili South, Onitsha South, Ihiala, and Ekwusigo local government areas. She said the agency, through the state government, traditional rulers, and critical agencies, had intensified efforts in sensitising the people and setting up measures to prevent and mitigate any flood emergencies.

‘Relocate to higher grounds’

Residents in lowland and flood-prone areas of Delta State have been called upon to relocate to higher ground in view of the impending flood, following earlier warnings from the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency. The Delta State Government, while giving the directive, said it was concerned about the lives and property of citizens living in flood-prone areas.

The state government, however, maintained that everything humanly possible was being done to mitigate the challenges expected from the impending flood.

The State Commissioner for Environment, Ejiro Tommy, specifically disclosed that the government “had started working out plans for local government areas that were flood-prone zones with earlier awareness campaigns and sensitization.”

Sokoto warns residents 

As part of measures to curtail any possible flooding in Sokoto State, officials of the Sokoto Environmental Management Agency have embarked on sensitisation of persons living in flood-prone areas. An official of the agency, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to the press, said the team had been moving from one community to another, informing those living close to these areas of the danger of floods.

Measures in place– Ondo

The Ondo State Government has said there is no cause for alarm regarding the issue of flooding in the state, stating that measures had been put in place to prevent the occurrence of floods. The state Commissioner for Environment, Oyeniyi Oseni, whose ministry supervises the State Emergency Management Agency, said the state government had been proactive, and steps were being taken to ensure no flood incidents are recorded in the state.

He said, “We have put several measures in place to prevent flooding across the state. We are stepping up our waste collection and disposal mechanism. We have commenced our channelisation programme called ‘Operation Flush’ to allow the free flow of water. We have put in place measures to evacuate about 100km of drainage across the state.”

Kwara govt expands river course

Additionally, the Kwara State Government said it had embarked on the expansion of Asa River and other river courses in areas prone to flooding in the state. The Secretary to the State Government, Prof Saba Mamman-Jubril, said that the government had taken proactive measures in areas listed by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency as prone areas in the state.

Mamman-Jubril said that the government had embarked on the construction of a dyke or levee, an embankment along a riverbank or coastal shoreline to prevent the flow of floodwaters, while those living near the river had been advised to move from the area. He said there was a need for frequent dredging, building more buffers, and afforestation to stem the dangers of flooding in communities.

NEMA mum

The National Emergency Management Agency has remained silent amid the ravaging floods that have devastated and killed many people in 10 states.

Several efforts since Thursday to understand what the agency was doing to help mitigate the impact of the 2024 flood did not receive positive response. Instead, officials of the agency have repeatedly claimed to be busy without providing answers on what NEMA is doing to help ameliorate the situation.

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After several attempts by our correspondent to get a response from NEMA on how it was tackling the emergency, the spokesperson of the agency, Ezekiel Manzo, said he was busy.

“I am deeply sorry. We are very busy in Kaduna and expecting the Vice President for a function shortly,” was his response on Friday to enquiries sent to him both on Thursday and Friday.

Lagosians count losses

Following a downpour that grounded business and commercial activities on Wednesday in various parts of Lagos State, residents have recounted the losses and damage they suffered. Although the state government said the rain lasted for nine hours, in some parts of the state, the rain lasted for more than 10 hours.

The downpour resulted in flooding that brought down a two-storey building in the Mushin area of Lagos and grounded vehicular movement on the roads, leading many car owners to resort to automobile mechanics to fix the damage incurred.

Saturday PUNCH gathered that the areas affected by the flood included Ojodu Berger, Ikeja, Ogba, Bariga, and Iba, among others, with residents lamenting that the rain also damaged their household appliances.

A resident of Awenla Street, in Bariga, Mr Olayode Ogunsanya, told one of our correspondents who visited the area on Thursday that his house was among the properties badly affected by the downpour. He said, “The downpour was very severe. It entered all our rooms in this building. As you can see, some tenants are still clearing out the dirty rainwater from their rooms.

“For some people, it took them till midnight yesterday (Wednesday) before they could clear out the flood. It affected their properties such as mattresses and others. The wind that accompanied the rain also affected the roofs of some of the rooms. I just sat down here thinking of how to fix them before it rains again.”

Recounting her loss, one of the tenants in the area, Mrs Bose Onayemi, said it had been a long time since her room was affected by a downpour, but the recent one damaged many gadgets in her apartment, including a new plasma TV and mattress.

“For the past 10 years, rain has not entered my room. But this last downpour was very serious and I was badly affected. Unfortunately, it spoilt the new plasma TV that we just bought. And, it was because we didn’t know that the rain would be that heavy, let alone think that it would enter the house. So, the television was still on the floor when the rain began.

 “You know the downpour started at midnight. Before I could wake up to realise what was happening, it had entered all the rooms in the house. So my children and I started packing the water. We did that till this morning.

“The rainwater soaked my mattress and affected the wood. That is why I brought them out to dry this afternoon. But, when I took the new television to the repair shop earlier today, I was told the rain had spoilt it. I just left it there. It is a sad one,” she lamented.

Another resident in the Iyana Iba area, Niyi Okeowo, stated that the downpour destroyed his property, blaming the ugly development on the lack of a planned drainage system in the area.

Niyi said, “I am not happy that this rain ruined all my property. It destroyed my bed and a lot of other things. I now walk through water in my room and compound. I just believe we don’t have a good drainage system. If we did, it wouldn’t be this bad.”

Additional reports: Okechukwu Nnodim, Edward Nnachi, Godwin Isenyo, Muhammed Lawal, Dele Ogunyemi, Uthman Abubakar, Peter Dada and Animasahun Salman

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