It was a night of horror for residents of Trademore, Light Gold, Wisdom Estates, and Lugbe community of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Sunday, September 12, 2021 at about 9 pm, when an uncontrolled flood during a heavy rainfall wreaked havoc on the community which led to the untimely death of four persons, destroyed 26 cars and 166 houses.
The residents who could not hold their emotions, while speaking with LEADERSHIP Weekend grieved over the collateral damage done by the flood and also feared that since the rainy season is still at its peak, the worst might be yet to be seen in the estate.
When LEADERSHIP visited the estate, the sight of the wreckage done by the flood was unimaginable. It was as if a tsunami had its night in the estate because nobody could believe that a flood could do such damage at the heart of the FCT.
One of the sights that caught the attention of many sympathisers was a tarred road that was completely washed off by the flood, which also did not spare the gigantic size of a towing truck parked in the estate but shifted it very far from where it was initially parked.
A victim who was lucky to have escaped death during the flood, Mr. Solomon Yusuf, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that he was returning from an evening prayer fellowship that night when he drove into the flood, not knowing the gravity of the flood.
Yusuf said when he saw that his vehicle was no longer moving forward and was swerving from left to right. He said he had to halt his trip via the main route and suddenly did a U-turn.
According to him, “Even to get back to the area I entered the flood from was very difficult for me. I was struggling with the wheel amidst the flood, praying that God should help me not to meet any disaster ahead. The fear that took over me gave me the strength to be more focused while struggling to drive out of the flood.
“God heard my prayers and suddenly I felt my car tyres on a better place without much strength from the water. But I did not have the courage to leave my car, because from where I was, I saw the force that the flood was moving properties of all sorts. However, I keep praying that it should not get to where I parked.
“For me, it was as if God had decided to destroy the world with water again because the water was everywhere and even almost entered inside my vehicle. But for the mercy of God, I and some other people that also parked close to me were not affected by the flood, but we heard that others that parked and stayed inside their cars were carried off by the flood,” he said.
Another resident of the estate, Audu Alhassan of the estate explained that although there has been flooding in the estate in the past, that the one of September 12 was worse than all the floods that have happened in the estate.
According to Alhassan, since he has been residing in the estate for over five years, he has not seen where floods carried off vehicles into ditches or took the lives of people.
He said the recent flooding and its effect on the estate is still like a nightmare to him.
“The flood we usually have in this estate was at Kennedy Street, while the next street is Obafemi Awolowo street. But whenever the flood happened at Kennedy street, it ends there and does not cross to another street, but this flood extended to Obafemi Awolowo street and other adjoining streets,” he said.
Also, an occupant of one of the houses affected Mrs. Gladys Akpan, while narrating her ordeal, said that she thought that she and her family were going to die, because when the flood was sweeping things away, they felt the impact on the foundation of their building, mostly when water started entering their house.
She said, “I have never experienced a thing like this before in my entire life. I have never been so scared like this before. On that night, I thought the world was going to end. It was an experience that cannot easily be forgotten for a long time.
“The whole house was shaking, and the sound of the flood was so loud that it created goose pimples on our skins. All we did during that horrible period was to pray to God that our house will not collapse and for Him to spare our lives.
“My fear now is what is the fate of this estate, now that the rain just entered the peak of the season? Because this kind of rain is bound to come again, and if it does, what is our fate. Mostly now that the flood has created a path to follow. The truth is that we are scared,” she said.
She appealed to the FCT Administration and Development Control to think of something they can do to avert such flooding from entering the estate in the future when it rained, saying that they are at the mercy of the impending flood in the estate.
The chairman of the Trademore Estate Residents Association, Adewale Osinaike, said that the flood claimed an uncertain number of lives, so far they have recorded two victims and their identities were still unknown.
Osinaike said the third body that was evacuated by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was around 10 am on Monday, that the body was that of a man who was in the estate to buy drugs.
He explained that from the information obtained, the man was inside his vehicle after buying drugs from the medicine store.
“He was said to have sat in his car hoping that the water level would subside, but the water eventually carried him and his Land Rover sport utility vehicle (SUV),” he said.
Another resident of the estate, Malam Hussein explained that from information he got, the man killed in the Land Rover vehicle was a DSS top official who went to get drugs from a pharmacy while it was raining.
“I witnessed how some people in the area tried unsuccessfully to stop the man from driving through the flooded area, but their warning came too late. The man in the SUV was reportedly swept away by the flood into the bridge beside the Police post and was found dead.
“The owner of a supermarket in the estate was also badly hit by the flood. His home and cars were destroyed while his family has currently relocated to the supermarket for shelter.
“Most of the goods in Prognosis Pharmacy and Supermarket sadly littered the street. Although there has been flooding in Trademoore Estate for some years now. Last Sunday’s flood was the worst in the history of floods in the estate.
“Last year, the video of a man carried off by the flood went viral. The minister of State for FCT visited, shared mattresses, cooking gas, and cartons of noodles to families affected. No lasting solution was sought. This year, as more estates crop up in and around Trademoore Estate, a more devastating disaster has occurred,” he said.
The disaster has made residents of the estate question the reason for the massive flood which was more devastating than ever, alleging that probably the government might have opened the dams the night it rained. They also wondered why it was only the estate that was hit by the flood in the entire FCT.
Some residents also blamed the flood on the wall recently erected on a street in the estate known as Imo Street, as part of security measures to prevent the movement of herders in the estate while other residents said the developer had recently sand-filled areas that should be a waterway and attempted to build on them, thus the resultant flood.
However, the acting director, FCTA Department of Development Control, Garba Kwamkur, explained that the agency had earlier marked some houses along waterways in the estate for demolition but could not execute the plan due to a court order, that all the agency’s efforts to reach a compromise with the estate developer has been difficult.
“When we came here last year for a similar issue, we came here with some hydrology analysis that showed that some houses are sitting on waterways. You can see that some houses have been marked along the bridge. In trying to enforce this, the developers got to the court and got an injunction.
“Banking on the fact that we have a court order binding development control, all we could do was to persuade him (the developer). You can see what happened again, another big issue that affects lives again.
“The issue of the court system in Nigeria usually takes time. For us, we also have our legal department who represents us, and I am not in a good position to tell the court that this endangers lives here, mine is to look at the physical development in the estate,” he said.
Director general of FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Abbas Idriss, explained that they were able to recover four bodies, 26 vehicles. We also observed that 166 houses were affected by the flood.
Idriss said that the losses were a summary of the impact of the flood on the affected locations, that the agency is still estimating the volume of losses suffered as a result of the flood.
“In light of this unfortunate incident, I wish to convey the deepest sympathies of the minister of the FCT, Mallam Muhammed Bello, to the residents of Trademore Estate, Light Gold Estate, Wisdom Estate, Lugbe Community, affected individuals and families, including those of surrounding communities, over the loss of lives and property.
“Furthermore, we want to appeal to the members of the community living along those axes to report any missing person or persons between the period of the flood till today 13 September, 2021 to the FCT Emergency Management Agency,” he said.
Idriss further explained that for this purpose, some communities in Gwagwalada including Giri, Unguwar Dodo, and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps Gwagwalada Command have been put on alert to report any case of floating body or property on the river channel for prompt rescue.
“Also, I want to appeal to all residents of the Federal Capital Territory, especially developers, to desist from violating the approved building codes in the FCT.
“We are also appealing to them to stop erecting retention walls to protect stormwater from flowing. By doing so, they are causing more havoc to the community.
“We also call on all residents to always call the 112 toll-free Emergency number to get prompt response when there is any form of threat or danger, as the Search and Rescue team of the Agency alongside other emergency stakeholders are on 24/7 alert,” he said.
The FEMA Director General further said that as the final phase of the rainy season is entered in the FCT, a phase in which rainfall is always at its peak, he called on all residents to avoid dumping of refuse in drainage.
“They should clear all surrounding drainages and other blockages that obstruct the free flow of water to reduce flood risk and its negative consequences; avoid driving or walking through flood water.
“They should also relocate to higher ground before being threatened by floodwater for those who are living along the river banks; watch for signposts on flood locations and also take seriously FEMA’s early warning sensitization from the media and town criers,” he said.