National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has expressed worry over adamant disposition of victims of flood disaster in Anambra State to relocate to safe and higher ground to avert impending disaster.
The agency attributed most erosion flood cases in Nigeria to refusal of people living in riverine communities to heed warnings from relevant agencies in disaster management.
Speaking after assessing the level of flood at Odekpe and Atani communities in Ogbaru council area, Acting Director General of the Agency, Air Commodore Akugbe Iyamu wondered why flood victims would insist on safeguarding their homes rather than fleeing for their lives.
He maintained that it was only the living that could claim possession of abode.
He said, “How will someone say it’s my ancestral home and wants to die there? This is not a time to defend whether the area is your ancestral home or not. To be able to push the narrative, you need to come out first and get saved before defending whether it’s your ancestral home or not.”
According to Iyamu, the visit to the area was at the instance of the state government following predictions by Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA).
“The agency has been following and closely monitoring the NIHSA predictions and having seen the level of the flood disaster, will take immediate actions,” he added.
The acting DG described flood as a highly unpredictable natural phenomenon which is not peculiar to Nigeria, assuring victims of quick deployment of food and non-food items.
“The US, since 1926, through its army engineers, have been managing flood and I don’t think it has gotten solution. The Mississippi is still a challenge to them.
“The federal government is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that those affected by flood are given adequate attention,” Iyamu posited.
Also speaking, Chairman of the Red Cross Society in the state, Prof. Peter Katchy, lauded the collaboration of the body with NEMA and other relevant agencies in times of emergency.
Katchy, who presented an award of Commander of Humanity to the NEMA boss, commended the agency for supporting the body during emergencies.
He pledged the organisation preparedness to work hard to combat situations that could lead to loss of lives, expressing hope of soon reception of relief materials.
Earlier, Transition Committee Chairman for Ogbaru Council Area, Mr. Arinze Awogu, went down memory lane on challenges they faced annually during rainy seasons.
He described the area as the worst hit by the disaster, regretting that twelve lives were lost last year to the flood.
He said, “Last year, we recorded 12 deaths with over 11,280 IDPs in the flood that lasted more than two months.
“We are always excited when we see government presence because we are sure of succour.”
Awogu disclosed that the three holding centers created in the 16 communities in the area were all ravaged by the flood, appealing for additional centers.
He commended Governor Willie Obiano for his prompt response to emergencies but requested for more holding centers in the area to accommodate the number of people affected.
He also stressed the need to prepare the centres for human habitation, just as he appealed for medics as several children were suffering from various health challenges.