Some residents of Ubaha Ezira community and environs in Anambra State had been rendered homeless by heavy flood that ravaged the community recently. Other villages in the area affected were Ezira Umuomaku and Enugu Umuonyia.
Ezira is an agricultural community in Orumba South Local Government Area of the state known for rice, cassava, yam, okro, vegetables and palm oil production.
The first rain of the year, which started around 5:00p.m last week Sunday, turned out to be heavy and invaded many homes in the area, engulfing valuables of the residents,the Daily Trust learnt.
Youth of the community mobilised immediately, to evacuate both young and old and the sick to safer homesteads.
Daily Trust gathered that no fewer than 200 persons, including a 98-year-old man, were rendered homeless by the flood which lasted hours in the community.
Narrating his ordeal, the nonagenarian, Emmanuel Onyeleme, said they now live like refugees in their hometown as a result of the flood, which was the first of its kind he was witnessing.
He lamented that he and his family were yet to eat because they neither had a place to make fire for food nor food items to cook.
Onyeleme blamed the ugly development on the contractor handling a road construction in the area and called on the state government and other concerned citizens to come to their aid.
“We now live like refugees in our hometown. Government should take responsibility for this because they brought these contractors who are doing this shoddy job that led to this catastrophe,” he said.
While seeking for assistance for the damage they suffered, Onyeleme said government should construct a proper gutter along the road so that subsequent rains would not submerge them completely.
Also speaking, Ozoemena Ikwukeme from Ubaha Ezira, obviously in shock, said the flood pulled down his wall and destroyed his property including his documents and those of his wife and kids.
He said he was yet to get a full grasp of the damage he had incurred from the flood, which included more than 30 bags of rice he recently harvested.
“I am a large-scale farmer as well as a staff in the Works Department of Orumba South Local Government. My documents are lost forever. All the certificates of my wife and my kids are lost. So are my efforts for the season. I am devastated,” Ikwukeme said in tears.
He said the contractors handling the road project should have completed a standard drainage system along the road to channel the flood.”
He said the company in charge of the road construction first blocked the gutter they had constructed locally as a community, which was why the flood could not be contained, thereby exposing the community in such devastation.
Emma Nwakuba, another Ubaha Ezira indigene, while questioning the state governor’s sincerity of purpose stated, “I want to ask the governor whether he gave this road to be truly built or as a political strategy.”
“All that the contractor did was to drive around for six months now without doing any meaningful work on the road. We have a lot of strong youths who are idle and can be employed to build the gutters. But they won’t. It is quite frustrating and we are suffering as a result,” he lamented.
He said the flood destroyed the power generator, electronic gadgets, borehole and other valuables of the house he was looking after for Chief Cajethan Iloka.
The chairman of Ubaha village, Jude Umunnakwe, described the incident as appalling, while also confirming that it was the first of its kind.
He added that he had spear headed the construction of a drainage system, which controlled flood before the contractors blocked it without providing an alternative, expressing regret that the contractor could not complete up to half a kilometer of drainage system.
“I appeal to the state government to hasten the contractors if they truly want to do this job or quit so the community can return to where they were before they came in,” he said.
The President General of Ezira Improvement Union, Chief Edison Umeh, who toured the area to ascertain the extent of damage, told journalists that he could not enter his compound during the incident because of the flood and had to sleep in a hotel until the following day.
He said, the government needed to speed up the work, adding that more rainfall might bring down houses. He said though they were yet to get statistics of the damage, he had seen quite a lot of devastation by the flood.
The spokesman of Ezira Improvement Union, Umeh William, described the incident as pathetic, saying, a lot of damage was wreaked on the erosion-prone community which demanded serious professional attention from government.
An official of the contractors, who preferred anonymity, said the construction company was building the gutter according to the specifications given to it by the state Ministry of Works.
However, all efforts to get the Ministry of Works to react proved abortive.
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