Owerri, the Imo State capital was in the news again last week, as most parts of the metropolis were submerged following a downpour that lasted for over 12 hours. It was, indeed, the worst flooding that has been witnessed in the state capital in recent times as many residents were sacked from their homes. Even perimeter fences of some houses collapsed under the pressure of the raging flood. It did not spare the Bishop’s Court, the official residence of the Anglican Bishop of Egbu Diocese. It equally sacked students of the Federal Government Girls College, Owerri, located along Okigwe Road.
Worst hit areas were the Federal Housing at Trans-Egbu, Works Layout, New Owerri, World Bank area and Orji, Amakaohia, Akwakuma and Umuguma Housing Estate, where hundreds of families were dislodged from their homes.
Also, major roads in the metropolis were taken over by the flood. Motorists who ventured out had their vehicles stuck in the flood.
Plusmila.com observed that many residents of the affected areas were trapped in their compounds. Some of them battled to remove their valuables while those who were going to work had to ‘swim’.
Obinna Akuwudike who lives at the Federal Housing Estate, Trans-Egbu, said the flooding on that fateful Thursday was the worst they had experienced in the past five years, as his house and 20 others together with their cars were submerged.
He said the problem of flooding in the area started five years ago, but that it worsened two years ago when the state government’s contractors blocked the main drainage channel at Chukwuma Nwoha Road.
His words: “About 20 houses were submerged in this estate with a lot of people losing their property to the flood as a result of the heavy rain which started late Wednesday night to about 10:00 a.m; Thursday morning. In the last five years we have been battling with the problem of flooding in the estate because of lack of drainage, but the problem was compounded in the last two years when some contractors working for the state government blocked the drainage at Chukwuma Nwoha and as a result whenever it rains heavily the estate is flooded. We have complained severally to the government about it, but nothing has been done.”
Similarly, Mr Frank Egenonu, a journalist, who is a resident of Road 6 at the Federal Housing Estate, Egbu and a victim of the disaster, told Plusmila.com that the flood has destroyed all his property, including pulling down the walls of his kitchen, toilet and parts of the fence.
He said that because of the force with which the flood found its way into his compound, it was difficult for him to save any of his property.
According to him, the disaster began around midnight on Wednesday through the early hours of Thursday.
He pointed out that because of the ever-rising water level, many of them climbed the fence of their compounds to avoid being drowned or electrocuted as many of their electronic devices like television, stabilizer and handsets were already connected to electricity as at the time the incident occurred.
He blamed the flooding on the blocked drainage system in the capital as a result of road expansion work being carried out by the state government, noting that if the manholes which are supposed to drain the floods and channel them to either the Nworie or Otamiri rivers were not blocked that the problem of the constant flood would not have been recurring.
“The main reason we have continued to have constant flooding in the state capital and its environs is because most of the drainages have been blocked as a result of the road expansion embarked upon by the state government and to make matters worse the one which is supposed to replace them is not able to withstand the force of the flood as it has collapsed because of the pressure of the raging flood. At the end, it is the people who suffer the adverse impact. And if nothing is done the issue of flooding will become worse in the coming years because as you know Owerri is in a valley,” he explained.
Also it was the same tale of woes for Eberechi Omawumi, a student of Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, who lives in Amakaohia, as she lamented that the flood which was caused by heavy rains did not only sack her and her roommates from their house, but also damaged all their belongings, including their textbooks.
“Since I came to Owerri, I have never experienced this kind of flooding because it destroyed everything in the house in which I and my roommates rented. We could not salvage anything from our rooms, including our books and other valuables because our compound was completely overtaken by the flood. So, everybody were running out of the compound because of the force of the flood as if a dam had burst open,” she said.
Also, traders within the Umuguma axis of the state capital who deal in electronics are still counting their losses as the flood had destroyed all their wares in their lock-up shops.
One of the traders, Nwabueze Uche, told Oriental News that the flood has rendered him useless and and submerged his shop.
“The flood of Thursday has ruined me and put me out of business because my shop was flooded and all my goods which are electronics destroyed; and, of course, you know that water and electronics are not friends,” he lamented,
While calling on the state and federal governments to come to their aid, the residents urged Governor Rochas Okorocha to reopen all the manholes that were supposed to drain water in the state whenever it rained to forestall future occurrence.