Days after the Anambra State Government advised citizens to move from flood planes to highgrounds, more than 1,000 persons in Ogbaru Local Government Area have been displaced by rising water from River Nigeria.
Following the development, many of the flood victims have moved to seek refuge with relations in places considered to be safe at the moment but local officials warn that such arrangements might not be sustainable
Mr Arinze Awogu, the Transition Chairman of Ogbaru Local Government Area, who made the development known to newsmen on Monday, urged the people to go to holding centres set up in the area to deal with the problem before the situation deteriorated.
Awogu said about 150 households with more than 1,000 persons had been forced to leave their homes for safety in upland areas.
He said many of the displaced persons moved to join their relations on the side of the river not yet affected.
“As I am talking to you, Ogbaru is gradually but steadily going under water. Our farms have become submerged, especially the root crops, and more than 1,000 persons have been displaced from their homes.
“They have joined their families upland, they have refused to go to the holding camps.
“You know we are riverine people, our occupation is agriculture; the farm produce of Ogbaru people and people who came to farm here are being washed away by the flood ,” he said.
Awogu said those who would not like to bear the loss of their crops had been forced to start premature harvesting of such crops
He said the government had set up three holding camps at Community Secondary School, Odekpe, Local Government Secretariat, Atani and St James’ Anglican Church, Iyiowa for flood victims.
He said facilities would be supplied at the centres according to the number of people in them and urged the people to move in immediately and not wait until the floods got more severe.
Awogu pointed out that the streams and water channels that emptied into River Niger had started flowing backwards and become white, an indication that the river level had risen and water flowing into the communities.
He said Atani, Akili-Ozizor, Odekpe and Ohita commutites have been overwhelmingly flooded.
Ogbaru with 16 communities is on the bank of the River Niger and experiences annual flooding from the overflow of the river
It is among eight local government areas which the state government advised citizens to leave because of impending floods.
During the 2018 flooding, 12 persons got drowned in Ogbaru and numerous properties and farmlands were destroyed by flood.
On Thursday, September 3, the state government in an advisory issued by C-Don Adinuba, the Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, urged people in the eight most prone areas to make use of holding centres it would establish to mitigate the impact of the flood.
Adinuba listed the eight local government areas as Anambra West, Anambra East, Onitsha South, Onitsha North, Ogbaru, Ihiala, Ayamelum, and Awka North.
“Following reports by the Nigerian Hydrological Serves that communities and states on the banks of the River Niger and River Benue will be affected by sustained heavy rains expected in the month of September, the Anambra State Government hereby advises people in flood-prone communities to start getting ready to vacate these places and move to safer areas.
“Anambra State Government is providing holding centres where the affected people will stay until the floods recede.
“Anambra State Emergency Management Agency has been given a list of the designated centres, which it will announce shortly,” he stated.
He said the centres would also be provided adequate security with personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps and Anambra State Vigilance Group participating.
“They will be given drugs and medical personnel like doctors, nurses and pharmacists will be available to attend to them promptly. Water ambulances will also be made available.
“People of Anambra are enjoined to rise to this challenge and the Civil Society are called upon to demonstrate their well-known solidarity with the human family,” the commissioner stated.
A member of one of the communities,
Miss Chidimma Oduah from Akili-Ogidi, said the flood reached her family house early in August and that those seriously threatened recently had moved out.
Oduah who works in Awka, the Anambra State capital, said the area had become increasingly flooded.
Also, Mr Philip Chike from Osamala, said his area was still relatively safe and the people still living in their homes.
Chike who spoke from his house in Ogbaru, said people were making frantic efforts to rescue some of their produce from the farm by engaging in premature harvesting.
“Flooding is normal to us in Ogharu, the River Niger overflows almost on yearly basis, when it becomes unbearable, we will move,” he said.