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Flooding: FG Activates States’ Emergency Centres, Govs Order Evacuation



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The Federal Government, on Sunday, confirmed that it has activated the various emergency centres across the country to help in tackling the flood situation in states.

It also urged residents living in flood-prone locations to move away from floodplains, stressing that responses from citizens in some of the affected states had been below expectation.

The government disclosed this through the National Emergency Management Agency, as some state governments announced the commencement of river dredging in their domains, while others ordered residents in flood-prone areas to evacuate.

On Friday, The PUNCH reported that the Federal Government said no fewer than 10 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, had either experienced various degrees of flooding or recorded casualties as rains intensified.

The report stated that the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof Joseph Utsev, who dropped the red alert during a press briefing in Abuja, warned that 21 more states might suffer flooding.

He stated this against the background of the Wednesday downpour which grounded business and commercial activities in Lagos and Ogun states.

The resulting flooding brought down a two-storey building in the Mushin area of Lagos and overwhelmed residents while pupils could not attend schools in parts of the state.

When contacted to speak on what NEMA was doing to help out, the agency’s spokesperson, Ezekiel Manzo, said the Director-General of the agency, Zubaida Umar, had activated NEMA’s emergency centres in states.

“The present urban flooding that has been witnessed in many states did not come by surprise. It is part of the situation that has been earlier forecasted and it was based on this forecast that NEMA had been carrying out various sensitisation and stakeholder meetings in various locations on this same matter.

“So following this situation, the Director-General has activated all the NEMA branch offices, they are all on standby and the DG has directed that they should work with the states to ensure that proper support is given to people affected in various locations,” Manzo stated.

On whether state governments were responding to the alerts given to them by NEMA as regards the 2024 flood situation, the agency’s spokesperson replied in the positive but noted that citizens’ response was not commensurate with the expectations of the agency.

“Many states that received our alert have been responding positively to it. We have received a good response from Anambra. We were in Anambra on Wednesday where the DG met with the deputy governor of the state, who stood in for the governor.

“The DG also had meetings with traditional rulers and religious leaders on the flood situation and they were happy about the development. This is because the South-East, particularly Anambra State, is usually the worst hit.

“The message that was delivered to them was that people should not wait until the floods come. They should move away from the floodplains,” he stated.

Commenting on the recent devastating flood in Lagos, the NEMA official stated that “it was essentially because people built on the waterways and blocked drainages. So the warning has been sounded, but the responses are not commensurate with what is expected.

“This is why we are having this situation and NEMA is reiterating that the warning given to the public concerning the flood is not a joke. What we are seeing now is just the early part of the situation, we don’t know what it will look like as the rains intensify.”

The PUNCH’s report on Friday stated that a pupil was swept away by the flooding in the Ketu area of Lagos.

In the report, the water resources minister explained that the Annual Flood Outlook by the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency released in April had predicted that 148 local government areas in 31 states fell within the high flood risk areas.

The affected states include Adamawa, Akwa  Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Kebbi.

Letters to govs

Meanwhile, NEMA again stated that it had written letters to governors earlier on the impending floods, stressing that it was time for everyone to work together to tackle the challenge.

“NEMA wrote letters to all the state governments and they have been engaging the stakeholders. So now is the time for every organisation that has something to do with disaster management to activate their resources for response to the floods.

“NEMA is also calling on state governments to know that this is the time for them to activate all their preparations for the flood. The Director-General of NEMA has activated all our zonal offices, they are 16 in number.

“The DG has instructed all offices, our offices nationwide, to work with the state emergency management agencies within their areas of responsibilities. For instance, we have our office in Ekiti that is responsible for Ekiti and Ondo,” Manzo stated.

He added, “So Ekiti office needs to work with the Ekiti State Emergency Management Agency and Ondo State Emergency Management. We also have our office in Ibadan which is responsible for Oyo, Ogun and Osun.

“So our officers in Ibadan, for instance, have been activated to work with the three states to make sure that the search and rescue operations in those areas are carried out effectively. So far, our officers have been deployed to the scene and they have responded to situations as they occur.

The Kwara State Government said that it has embarked on the expansion of the Asa River and other river courses prone to flooding in the state.

The Secretary to the State Government, Prof Saba Mamman-Jubril, said the government has taken proactive measures in areas listed by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency as flood-prone areas in the state.

Mamman said the government had asked people living near the river in the Ilorin metropolis, Patigi, Edu, Moro and other Local Government Areas prone to flooding to relocate to safe locations.

He said the government had embarked on the construction of a dyke or levee, an embankment along a riverbank or coastal shoreline to prevent the flow of flood waters, while those living near the river had been advised to move away from the area.

According to him, there is also the need for frequent dredging, building of more buffers and afforestation to stem the dangers of flooding in communities.

NIMET had listed the Local Government Areas under high and moderate flood risk areas in the state as Pategi, Edu, Kaiama, Asa, Baruten, Moro, Ilorin East and Ilorin South LGAs.

On their part, the Sokoto State Emergency Management Agency said it was collaborating with NEMA in creating awareness about floods in the state.

The Director of Operations for the agency, Mustapha Umar, told one of our correspondents that the agency had been organising sensitisation meetings with officials of NEMA for people living in flood-prone areas.

He said, “Even a few days ago, we had a similar meeting in conjunction with NEMA and other stakeholders, where we analysed areas that are dangerous during this period.

“We also have an evacuation plan, NEMA asked us to submit our plan and the designated areas in case of flood, and we have collated that and submitted it to them already.

“We have done a lot in terms of dishing out information to the people and creating awareness for them on the dangers involved with floods.”

This came as the Delta State Government called upon residents in low-land and flood-prone areas of the state to relocate to higher planes because of the impending flood and the warnings from the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency.

While maintaining that it was concerned about the lives and property of citizens living in flood-prone areas, the state government emphasised that everything humanly possible was being done to mitigate the possible challenges from the impending flood.

The state Commissioner for Environment, Ejiro Tommy, said the government “has started working out plans on Local Governments that are flood-prone zones with an earlier awareness campaign and sensitisation.”

He added, “The state governor has directed the ministry to sensitise and embark on an awareness campaign, especially for those who are living in the flood-prone zones, that when the water is coming they must leave the area.”

The commissioner said some steps had already been taken to open up channels to allow the free flow of water.

He also stated that during last year’s floods, the state government was well prepared, while all necessary arrangements were put in place as the ministry got the information, “hence, this year will not be different.”

Tommy said a committee to mitigate floods in Delta State has already been established, headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Kingsley Emu.

The Local Governments that are likely to experience flooding in Delta State, according to NIHSA warnings, are Bomadi, Patani, Oshimili South, Ughelli South, Ndokwa East, part of Warri North and part of Ughelli North.

The Ekiti State Commissioner for Environment, Tosin Aluko-Ajisafe, said the state government has been taking steps to avert flooding in the state.

Aluko-Ajisafe said the efforts include clearing blocked drainages and waterways in areas prone to flooding including Ado, Ikere and Ekiti South West Local Government Areas.

She said, “In the last two months, we have been dredging the waterways that could cause floods in Ado Ekiti. We started from Onala to the Crown Biz area along Iworoko Road.

“We are ready, we are starting another round of desilting soon. The Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, has approved funds for desilting in Ado, Ikere, and Irepodun/ Ifelodun LGAs. We are moving to Ekiti South West next week. We are ready.

“We have done a lot to avert flooding. We are appealing to people not to dispose of their wastes into the erosion path, canals and waterways.”

The commissioner said that nothing untoward was being expected because of efforts so far to avert flooding.

She said, “Right from time, we have been telling people to stay where they are whenever it rains so that they would not be swept away by erosion. I am appealing especially to Okada operators who usually dare erosions, they should stay where they are.”

Additional reports from Tunde Oyekola,  Animasahun Salman, Dele Ogunyemi, and Abiodun Nejo

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