Mitigating Another Flood Disaster

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Recent announcement by the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) that Rivers State and 11 others across the country would, within the remaining months of 2018, experience severe flooding resulting from torrential rain falls, calls for serious concern.
The agency, in an emergency meeting with stakeholders in disaster management in Abuja, listed Rivers, Bayelsa, Kogi, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Edo, Benue, Anambra, Delta, Taraba and Adamawa as States that would be worst hit by the impending flood.
NIHSA revealed that all the indicators that played out before the 2012 flood disaster had already manifested in its latest survey, warning that these indicators point to the fact that the height of River Niger has risen to 10.11 meters as at penultimate Friday as against 9.74 meters of the same period in 2012.
Water levels, the agency stated, had been on the increase virtually every day due to the opening of the Shiroro, Kainji and Jebba Dams. It said the warning demands urgent proactive and preventive measures to avoid a repeat of the 2012 disaster. NIHSA particularly advised residents of flood-prone communities in the aforementioned states to be on red alert and possibly relocate to higher grounds.
The Tide is particularly worried that Rivers State has persistently been listed as one of the states to be flooded, and this calls for prompt action. We recall that Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor, Ahoada East, Ahoada West, Abua/Odual, Ikwerre, Emohua, ONELGA, Oyigbo and Etche Local Government Areas were always worst hit by floods in the past. We, therefore, call on all relevant government and non-governmental agencies to collaborate to ensure that the state does not suffer another devastating flood disaster.
While we welcome the assurance by the Port Harcourt South South Zonal office of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of its readiness to efficiently tackle any threat posed by the predicted high tide in the state, we expect to see the speedy implementation of strategies to check the trend.
Equally noteworthy is the assurance by the Special Adviser on Emergency and Relief to the Rivers State Governor, Hon. Chris Berewari, that the government is prepared to handle the predicted flood in parts of the state and had already commenced sensitisation of residents in flood-prone communities.
We are aware that the state government, through its relevant organs, is also cleaning up the drains and water channels to allow for easy evacuation of storm water. It is, therefore, expected that residents should also help themselves by not dumping refuse into the drains. They should strive to use designated dumps and receptacles for waste disposal while structures erected on waterways should be relocated.
NEMA has acknowledged receipt of N3 billion to tackle this year’s flood emergencies. Even as this sum appears rather paltry, we believe that, if properly deployed and with additional funds from states through their emergency management outfits, a lot can be achieved collectively. There should be adequate deployment of men and materials, including helicopters, to help guide response teams to areas of most need during such disasters.
Plans should be made to establish emergency centres in major towns in the state ahead of the impending floods. Also, arrangement should be made to stock warehouse with foodstuffs and other relief items in readiness for any cases of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). We think this is the path to follow.
NIHSA’s prediction should be a clarion call to all stakeholders to effectively synergise to minimise human and material losses in the event of a flood emergency in the nation’s coastal States, particularly in Rivers State.