Flooding: Woes And Tears Of Victims

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A recent flood scene in Port Harcourt .

The weather has changed again. I’m praying that it should not rain because that will increase the volume of water in the compound already. In fact, after yesterday’s rain, it has increased so much.
“We now enter the house through an ‘apian way’. The environment is so messy”.
Those were the words of Mr Ifeanyi Onianwa, a resident of Mkpolu, Rumuigbo, whose house was among the numerous houses affected by the torrential rainfall, which has led to the flooding of many communities in Rivers State.
The worst hit areas are Eneka, Rukpokwu, Rumuigbo and some other communities in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
Incidentally, Rivers State is not alone. Lagos, Benue, Kogi and Niger States have suffered their own flooding challenges.
In Lagos State, for instance, many streets and homes were flooded and property, including cars and other valuables, were submerged.
Flooding has become a perennial problem in the country with the worst incident happening in 2012.
Thirty two states were affected,  more than 360 people were killed and almost 2 million people were displaced.
The seriousness of the flooding was attributed to a combination of two events: very heavy local rainfall and the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam in nearby Cameroon.
Although the degree and seriousness of flooding in Nigeria varies, flooding remains a recurring phenomenon in most parts of the country.
According to experts, the major cause of  flooding is climate change, which contributes to more extreme storms and rainfall.
Some have also attributed the problem to rapid urban growth, poor planning and uncontrolled development.
Talking specifically about Rivers State, Sir Ernest Muze,  a resident of Rumu-esara, Eneka, whose newly-built duplex was badly affected by the flood waters, forcing him and his family out of the building, blamed the havoc on lack of drainage systems and canals to take the water out.
Like other residents of Eneka, Sir Muze equally attributed the heavy flooding to the failure of the contractor who handled the expansion of Eneka/ Igwuruta Road to construct adequate drainage system thereby forcing the water into peoples’ homes and farmlands.
He stated that uncontrolled development and failure of the town planning authority and other agencies responsible for checking abuse of the environment to carry out their duties effectively is also a contributory factor.
He said a situation where it was predicted that there was going to be heavy rains and flooding this year by Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), but instead of taking proactive measures to either avert it or mitigate the impact, both the people, the government and the agencies concerned went to sleep.
This, according to him, didn’t signify that the state and indeed the country was serious about fighting flood. He further blamed bad policies for the disaster.
Hear  him: “a situation where the government at the center is solely responsible for everything that has to do with water , what do you expect?
“The states cannot do much because the action point where the corrective measure should be taken to prevent flood belongs to the federal government.”
The environmental scientist insisted that unless there is devolution of power which will empower states to dredge rivers, and create more room for water, we will continue to experience flooding annually.
He advised that major rivers should be dredged so that more water can be emptied into the ocean.
The Minister for Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, at a recent event said:
“We approved such an idea to dredge River Niger and Benue which we have found very useful and we will do a lot to safeguard the banks of the rivers and the communities downstream from excessive flooding.
“We need to look at a realistic solution to this problem, the dredging of these rivers is very important in addressing this flood issue and we will do something about it”.
However, while the government and its agencies are looking into the above suggestions to tackle flooding, individuals have been advised to heed the admonition of the Rivers State Governor, Barr Nyesom Wike.
Visiting some flooded communities few weeks ago, the governor assured the people  of his administration’s readiness to tackle the environmental challenges and advised residents of Port Harcourt to stop dumping refuse in water channels as such actions lead to the blockage of the water ways, which subsequently leads to flooding.
Meanwhile, analysts have stated that incessant flooding in the State and other parts of the country can be addressed if the government, the regulatory agencies and the citizens do what is expected of them and at the right time.
Providing material support to flood victims is appreciable but the authorities should consider channeling such resources into preventing the menace as much as possible.