The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has warned of an imminent flood in some communities in Kogi State.
Specifically, the Agency disclosed that Sarkin Noma, Ganaja in Lokoja local government area and Igala Mela LGA, among other areas, are places where the flood is imminent in the state.
A press statement issued by Sani Datti, NEMA’s Head of Media and Public Relations said the Agency has immediately established contact with the state Commissioner for Environment, State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and other relevant bodies. The statement read:
“A team from the agency is due to arrive the state for appropriate action to the affected persons and communities.
”NEMA strongly advises the communities living around the flood plains to immediately relocate to higher grounds for safety to avoid the danger of the imminent flood.
On Thursday, September 7, some communities in Lokoja, the Kogi state capital were flooded and submerged after a midnight rain wreaked havoc in the area.
The torrential rain which started at about 12.30 am and lasted for several hours left some houses destroyed and rendered many homeless. The effect of the rain was also felt at the ever busy Lokoja-Abuja highway as one side of the dual carriage way was completely submerged causing a gridlock.
Travellers and other road users from the southwest and eastern parts of the country were held within Lokoja and the highway as they had to wait for the water level to recede before using the road. Shops, mosques and filling stations located around NATACO junction were also affected with the water destroying many of their goods.
The State Government has however appealed to the Federal Government and other agencies to come to their aid and reduce the impact of flooding in the flood prone communities of the state.
Speaking during an assessment of the flooded communities, the commissioner for environment and natural resources, Rosemary Oshikoya said the government had commenced removal of shanties and temporary structures in the affected areas.
The commissioner disclosed that before the disaster, the government had in the last few days been engaged in sensitizing and educating the people in the flood prone areas of the need to vacate the areas in order to stop blocking the waterways. Explaining the extent of the damages so far, Oshikoya said:
“Within this week, Igalamela and Odolu have been flooded with about three communities completely submerged and we are trying to establish the number of persons affected. We have similar reports from Idah, Ibaji, Bassa all within this week. The reports are pouring in in torrents.
“In Lokoja yesterday, the axis around Ganaja Village and Gadumo axis were flooded and we are trying to confirm the number of houses and persons that were affected.
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“This morning Sarikin Noma was completely flooded and the community is completely cut off from Lokoja and at the Nataco junction of the Abuja-Lokoja federal high way one lane was completely over ran. Within the urban centers, Yagba East this morning was reported to have been flooded.
Oshikoya explained that government had already set up camps in various parts of the town where affected people would be catered for. She said:
“We have things on ground, we are trying to prepare the places that we had earlier earmarked for refuge situation. We have also notified our colleagues at NEMA hoping that we can get all the help that we anticipated before now.
“It is important to note that on the 14th of August NEMA conducted a joint assessment with Kogi State Government and we have gone to all those sites for immediate relief as soon as we can have because the state resources are far stretched and at this point the people need the comfort of a refugee camp for them to be able to move otherwise some of them cannot move.
“Putting those camps there require a lot of logistics because if you take people to a camp you have to provide food for them, beddings because the ones they have are soaked as in many places half the building have been submerged and people don’t have where to live, how do you guarantee safe water and other requirements like the foodstuffs. So we need to have a lot of support at this point beyond what the state can provide.
“We are calling on all well-meaning individuals, corporate and the federal government and members of the society that this is just the beginning of Kogi flood season so we envisage a lot more as the rains continue. So we do hope it doesn’t get as bad as 2012 but the state needs help being one of the low-income States as the resources are overstretched”.