Flooding: 70 percent of Bayelsa Communities under water, Dickson cries out
… Gov Urges FG to Declare Flood Emergency in Bayelsa
…As a flood ravages Gov’s community, Toru Orua, others
The Governor of Bayelsa State, the Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, has raised the alarm that over 70 percent of the communities in the state have been submerged by the raging flood in the country.
The Governor spoke to journalists during a tour of communities severely affected by flooding with representatives of the National Emergency Management Agency, members of the state security committee, the Police, the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence and others.
A statement by the Special Adviser to Governor on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, on Sunday, stated that the Governor spoke to journalists in the middle of a road in front of his father’s compound at Toru Orua, with water rushing at a bewildering rate from the Forcados River into the community.
The severity of the flood was such that some of the communities have been cut off by the increasing flood level which has got to window and lintel levels in others. The governor and those who embarked on the tour with him observed that Biseni community and settlements around it in Yenagoa Local Government Area could no longer be accessed by road.
The convoy of cars had to be turned back when the people came out in boats on the tarred road to say that accessing the area by road had been rendered impossible by the raging flood with rising water level.
Also, Governor Dickson and his team visited other communities which were submerged by the raging waters with the desperate people in need of shelter for relief materials at Sampou, Kaiama, Odi, in Kolokuma/Okpokuma Local Government Area and Sagbama, Bolou Orua, Toru Orua, and several others in Sagbama Local Area.
A substantial part of the state capital, Yenagoa, especially Tombia, Akempai, and others are seriously affected by the flood. Governor Dickson said that the severity of the flood made the State Executive Committee and the State Security Committee to take a decision during their meetings on Friday to close down all schools in Bayelsa with immediate effect to enable the management to take the students to their parents. He described the flood as a major disaster which had affected the state with thousands of people rendered homeless.
The governor also identified several some public premises which were not affected by the flood for immediate conversion to temporary internally displaced camps in the state. He called on the Federal Government for urgent support to the state to combat the humanitarian challenges thrown up by the flooding emergency.
The Governor who called on the Federal Government to declare a flood emergency in Bayelsa observed that the coastal state which is below the sea label was omitted when the government declared emergency flood situation in four states – Kogi, Niger, Delta and Anambra – on September 18, 2018. He argued that the flood situation in Bayelsa was inevitable as the entire state is below sea level with all the major rivers and tributaries through which water flows from the River Niger and Benue to the Atlantic Ocean.
He said that the state government had set up a Special Committee to manage the flood situation comprising top government officials and the security services under the leadership of the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah.
He said, “We have spent the whole day going from one local government area to the other; going from one community to the other; assessing the situation and seeing first hand the way our people are coping with this major disaster.
“Community after community, we have seen women, children and men managing to survive a very difficult situation. So I want to first of all, on behalf of the state government and the good people of this state appreciate the resilience of our people who are affected in the various communities.
“What has happened in this state is that about 70 percent of our state right now is under water as we speak. Almost 70 percent of our communities are under water now and people are now grappling for survival. What we have seen is really, serious, dangerous and touching. This is a major disaster that has affected the state.
“And those of you on this tour can attest to the deplorable state we have seen in community after community. So I want to call for immediate federal support to our state. We as part of our emergency and disaster management system, we have in place, a committee that has the security services working with the officials of the NEMA under the overall management of the Deputy Governor who reports to me.
“Government in conjunction with the security services are working with the NEMA and SEMA officials and community leaders organising themselves to mount various forms of rescue operations and we have seen how the people themselves living in this flooded homes are now devising various ways of protecting themselves and properties.
“What we have seen is really touching. This is a major disaster that has affected the state and I want to also thank the members of the Security Council.”
Speaking also, representative of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Kayode Fagbemi, said that having observed the pathetic flooding situation in Bayelsa during the tour of the affected communities with the governor, he would report his findings to Abuja.
He said that the agency had sent 20 òf its staff to the Bayelsa preparatory to the anticipated flooding in the state. Fagbemi who said that relief materials would soon arrive the state added that the agency was collaborating with its state counterpart to organize camps in the state.
“I have gone round communities with His Excellency and the Deputy Governor and I have for myself and i have seen that the situation is pathetic and I will take the report back home and more support will come from the federal government.
“We have brought a water purifying machine here because we know many of the water sources will be contaminated and make sure people don’t take contaminated water.” He said.