Following last week’s prediction by the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) which puts Rivers State as one of the spotlight states for flood, many communities in the state have been apprehensive over the likely impact of the prediction on them.
The communities of old Orashi region of thestate which are prone to flood include Mbiama, Omoku, Ndoni, Egi, Umeda, Ewude, Egbema, Abua, Odua, Joikrama and Egbeda all in Ahoada east, Ahoada west and Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government areas and some parts of Port Harcourt and Obio Akpor local government areas.
It could be recalled that many rural communities, especially those in the old Ahoada province, were submerged by rampaging flood in 2012 where properties and cash crops worth millions of naira were washed away and hundreds of residents displaced.
However, few days after the NIHSA prediction, the Rivers State government issued a red alert warning residents living in the flood plain areas to move to safer ground in order to avert an impending danger.
The Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Environment, Dr Emmanuel Uran, advised those living in the water plain areas to be watchful and relocate to the upland when they noticed a sudden rise in the level of rivers and canals around them.
Dr Uran said the advice became necessary following warning by the NIHSA that some communities of the state are at risk of being flooded due to volume of water at rivers Niger and Benue.
He urged residents, especially those living in Port Harcourt and its environs, to have attitudinal change on dumping of refuse into drainage and canals to avoid flash flooding and untold hardship.
Already Daily Trust observed that the impact of flooding is beginning to have a toll in Port Harcourt, Obio Akpor, Oyigbo, Eleme, Ahoada and Abua /Odua part of the state.
Some streets in Port Harcourt, such as Ikwerre road, Forces Avenue, Rumukalagbo, Choba, Mgboba/NTA, Rumulumeni and some parts of East West road were submerged recently by flood.
Many residents were displaced while properties worth millions of naira were destroyed.
At Oyigbo, some residents had to abandon their homes as a result of flood that displaced them as well as the destruction of their properties.
Some of the residents of Ahoada, Ndoni, Ewude, Joikrama and other communities in the old Orashi region said they have been advised to move out of the flood prone areas.
A resident of Ndoni, John Obi said: “Our community is prone to flooding because of its geographical terrain. In 2012 some parts of our community were flooded, many residents were displaced and property worth millions of naira destroyed. We have been advised to be watchful and vigilant and observe the level or rivers. I am not leaving anything to chance. I have started a gradual process of relocation so that I will not be caught unawares.”
Another resident of Aga in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area, Phillip Uzondu, said given the experience they had in 2012, they have started the process of relocation.
At Ewude in Ahoada Local Government Area, a resident who pleaded anonymity said, “In 2012 it appeared as if the world had come to an end. My community was flooded because of our closeness to Sombriro river. Anytime the river bank overflows residents suffer unimaginable losses. The flooding of 2012 was terrible.”
He explained that the entire community was affected as churches, schools, houses and farmlands were submerged, saying, “farmers hurriedly harvested their crops while those who could not, had theirs destroyed by flood. It was a bitter experience I don’t pray to reoccur. I am not leaving anything to chance.”
Meanwhile, the state government, through the Ministry of Environment had on several occasions directed residents of the state to remove any structure that was built on the waterways and also advise those living within the flood prone areas to relocate to safe areas.
The South South Zonal office of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Port Harcourt, said it has worked out plans on how to contain flooding in suspected flood plain areas.
The spokesman of the zone, Mr Victor who said he was out of town when our reporter contacted him, said the zone has a roadmap on what residents should do in an emergency.