If indicators from the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA), released early May 2021, are anything to go by, the impact of this year’s flood has indeed been overwhelming.
The agency simply advised Nigerians residing at waterways to relocate to safe areas before the peak of the rains. It also warned that Nigerians have about three months to prepare against the disastrous effects of the flood.
Sadly, in the ancient town of Keffi, Nasarawa State the furious flood left eight persons dead and over 50 houses submerged was reportedly attributed to heavy rainfall that fell from Sunday 25th July, 2021 to 10 am on Monday 26th July, 2021.
Some of the worst-hit areas are Dadin Kowa, near the Prisons Office in Keffi, and Antau communities located close to the river bank.
Apart from washing away many homes and rendering many homeless, the floods also washed away motorcycles, farm crops, and livestock.
Some residents who spoke with our correspondent blamed the flooding on natural disasters and poor drainage systems caused by uncontrolled physical development.
Many of the victims who are yet to relocate despite signs of more rains said they need government support to get new homes.
The unit head of Dadin Kowa (New Jerusalem), Mr Timothy Luka said he has never seen such an impact from flooding in the town apart from the sad trivial which occurred in 2016.
According to him, “I woke up that Monday morning, I wanted to go to the farm, but because it was still drizzling, I decided to wait and shortly after that, my children who were already out returned home and told me that the river was surging, adding that many houses were submerged already.
“I ran out and mobilised people, and we went around rescuing the victims of the flood, we thank God nobody died in Dadin Kowa, but as you can see, many houses were flooded,” he said.
A victim, Ruth Alhaji, said her house was submerged, adding that she lost valuables such as personal documents, animals, and foodstuff.
“We lost so many things. We need help and assistance from the government and good samaritans for us to be able to return to normal life,” she said.
A widow and mother of five Madam Sarah said she sent her children to her relatives and friends in different places after her house was submerged on Monday by the flood.
“I need to relocate from this area too, however, I have no money to do so,” she told our correspondent who visited the area.
On his part Joshua John Lewu, a staff of Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Keffi, said he could not remove anything from his house after the flood struck.
“When we saw the rising water coming like a strong wave, we all ran away leaving our property. I thank God that I did not lose any of my family members,” he said.
The area head, Antau Alhaji Mohammed Nasir, popularly known as (Alhaji KB), said what happened that Monday was heartbroken.
According to him, “Eight people were confirmed dead and buried and over 15 persons are still at large, owing to the flood that also rendered many homeless.
“One of my neighbors lost 11,000 fishes, the other one lost 1,000 chickens, and based on statistics, people in this area lost over 400 bags of foodstuffs to the flooding.”
He said Doctors’ Quarters located behind Keffi Hotel and other houses in Antau were submerged by the flood that lasted for more than 24 hours.
The director of Personnel Management (DPM), Keffi local government area, Ladan Umar Danteni, confirmed the incident.
He added that “Antau bridge connecting Keffi-Akwanga road to the main town was affected by the flood to the extent that the pillars were affected and needed an immediate response.”
“The Gadan Mallam Nuhu along Keffi-Abuja road, then Rafin pa, up to International Cattle Market on the same road and some parts of Shittu Alao Barracks Keffi, were all affected by the flood.”
“I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the government and spirited individuals to come to the aid of the victims of this ugly situation to caution their sufferings,” he said.
Similarly, residents of Agwatashi in the Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State have cried for help after a heavy rainfall that same day destroyed a bridge linking the community with other communities in the area.
A traditional title holder, Egye Inarigu, who spoke during a visit to the community, explained that the rain, which fell for many hours, also grounded commercial activities.
“The rain was heavy. However, the bridge we have been managing, which links us with other communities in the local government, has been destroyed. As a farmer, I pass through that bridge daily to my farm, so I am appealing to the government and the good people of the state to help us,” he added.
A civil servant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that he was unable to go to his office as a result of the damaged bridge.
“Because of the collapsed bridge, I was unable to go to my office today, as there was no road for vehicles to pass. This issue calls for great concern because we are in the rainy season, and if the rain continues to fall every day, people of the community will face difficulty in carrying out their daily activities,” he said.
Recall that the minister of Water Resources and Rural Development, Suleiman Adamu, during the public presentation of the 2021 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO), had raised the alarm that Nigerians should expect more floods in 2021.
The minister noted that 302 local councils in 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), fall within moderate flood risk areas, while 121 councils in 28 states are within the high-risk areas.
“This year, like 2020, we will be grappling with two threats of COVID-19 pandemic and related hygiene challenges, as well as the impending floods as predicted in the AFO. The 2021 flood levels will be higher than in the previous years, but will not attain the levels of 2012 that was devastating,” he said.
He warned that states contiguous to rivers Niger and Benue, including Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Nassarawa, and Kogi, were likely to experience river flooding.
According to him, coastal flooding is also expected to affect Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa, Delta, Lagos, and Ondo states.
“Flash and urban floods from heavy inundation are predicted to occur in some major cities. The severity would depend on the availability and adequacy of drainage systems and adherence to urban planning regulations,” he added.
Adamu called on stakeholders, including policymakers and agencies to rise to the challenge of the impending floods.
Undoubtedly, flooding has become a perennial challenge in the country, seemingly defying all solutions put in place by the government at all levels.
When such ugly flooding occurs as it does annually, it leaves in its wake destruction of property, displacements, and deaths in some cases.
Memories of such displacements, occasioned by 2016 flooding which left some survivors homeless, were recently rekindled in Keffi town, the headquarters of Keffi local government area of Nasarawa State.
This is the experience of thousands of displaced families due to devastating flooding on Monday 27th July, 2021, which wreaked havoc and left many in untold hardship.
Aside from the high number of casualties recorded, many houses were submerged, others collapsed, several farmlands submerged just as foodstuffs and livestock were also lost.