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Flood victims in Bayelsa cry out for help

Bayelsa flood

Bayelsa flood

Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Residents of communities in Bayelsa submerged by flood are appealing to the government at all levels to find a lasting solution to the perennial menace of the natural disaster.

Some of the communities already submerged by water are: Biseni, the Tombia-Amassoma Road, Akenfa, Akenpai, Igbogene, Swali in Yenagoa and towns such as Kaiama, Odi, Otuoke, Kolo and other Ogbia communities near tributaries of Rivers such as the River Nun and the Epie Creek.

Many communities in Sagbama, Ekeremor and Kolokuma-Opokuma Local Government Areas are equally impacted.

During an interview with Radio Nigeria in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, some of the flood victims who are now homeless pleaded with government to provide them with temporary shelters and relief materials to cushion their sufferings.

There are already casualties from the flood disaster in Bayelsa State.

A woman identified as Mrs Uwaoma Johnson, a native of Akwa-Ibom State, a mother of 3 children lost her life as she was swept away by erosion in Obogoro Community at about 4am this morning.

A six month old baby left at home by the mother, reportedly drowned in the house while a sixteen year old also lost his life in incidents that took place in Yenagoa.

A victim, Mrs. Perez Ayebanua said the flood water is already taking a toll on inhabitants with reptiles also competing with them for space.

Madam Florence Job and Mrs Ebi Perekeme explained that while those who have the resources have left their homes for hotels or other homes elsewhere, those of them that are not financially buoyant are stranded.

Bayelsa flood
Bayelsa flood

Along the East West Road connecting the South South region to Lagos, the South East and other parts of the country indicates that the flood is already affecting some sections of the road. Worse hit is the Patani section, a town in Delta State that shares boundary with Bayelsa Communities such as Adagbabiri which is already submerged by water.

The Mbiama bridge that connects many Engenne communities in Rivers State to Bayelsa is also being threatened by the rampaging flood waters from the river underneath which is full to the brim.

Academic activities in the affected communities have been suspended. To protect the lives of pupils and students,the Bayelsa State Government has directed that Schools in Bayelsa State be on a six-week break to protect pupils and students from the flood disaster.

In the meantime, the Bayelsa State Task Force on Flood Mitigation and Management has visited some affected communities for an on-the-spot assessment of the impact.

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Communities visited in Yenagoa and Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Areas included Tombia-Ekpetiama, Odi, Sampou, Kaiama, Gbaranma Sabagreia, Okoloba, Biseni and neighbouring communities as well as some areas within the Yenagoa metropolis.

Commissioner for Environment and Chairman of the task force, Iselema Gbaranbiri, lamented the impact of the flooding in Biseni community, which he said was almost totally submerged.

Gbaranbiri sympathised with people of the area on behalf of the Governor, who he said was passionate about their well-being, hence the setting up of the task force on flood mitigation on Wednesday during the state executive council meeting.

On the situation in parts of Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA such as Odi and Sampou, Gbaranbiri said both communities were relatively safe at the moment due to the water barrier built by the government while areas like Gbarama, Sabagreia, Okoloba and Kaiama were heavily impacted with institutions such as the Ijaw National Academy, the Girls Secondary School in Kaiama and the Bayelsa State Sports Institute at Asoama flooded.

Bayelsa flood
Bayelsa flood

The Environment Commissioner explained that the essence of the on-the-spot assessment was to get first-hand information about the situation and identify areas of need for government to provide succour to the people.

While calling on the Federal Government to assist the state government in alleviating the sufferings of victims, he stated that other local governments areas will be visited and that succour would be provided for those affected in form of building of higher grounds, provision of relief materials and medicals.

Also, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Moses Teibowei, said the concrete water barrier built in three communities was a pilot project based on the advice of his ministry.

He noted that the barrier has proved to be effective so far, saying government was still monitoring its effectiveness.

He assured that a decision will be taken by the government to replicate them in other communities and possibly improve on them.

Teibowei stated that the state government also implemented a home-grown technology in parts of Yenagoa such as the Epie creek in Okutukutu area, which has prevented the area and parts of Opolo from being flooded so far.

He said a similar measure will be replicated around down Yenagoa, Obele, the Law School at Agudama and other parts of Yenagoa.

He expressed optimism that by the time the home-grown technology, which has been implemented in parts of Yenagoa metropolis, was fully implemented, the issue of flooding will be mitigated in the state.

Director of Operations, Bayelsa State Emergency Management Agency (BYSEMA), Mr. Ayii Aziowei, sympathized with those affected, stating that the government would do its best to provide relief for victims.

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