By Joy Odigie
Some victims of flood in Benin, Edo State are taking refuge in the Christ Apostolic Church of God Mission, a church within the neighbourhood where the disaster happened on June 24.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the victims were residing at Ogbowan Street and Ogbowan Crescent, Ugbor area of the Government Reservation Area (GRA) in Benin, where houses were submerged by the flood.
The victims, about seven from different families told NAN on Tuesday that they decided to take succour in the church because it was the only building in the neighbourhood that was not seriously affected by the flood.
Mrs Grace Manasseh, a victim, said that the rains started at about 4 a.m. in the area on Monday, June 24, and by about 7a.m., the flood had overtaken their entire house.
“My son had to carry me on his back to the church because of my ill health; we could not rescue our property and we had to sleep in the church last night.
“We want government to come to our rescue because we have lost our belongings,” she pleaded.
Another victim, Mrs Josephine Bassey, said that the flood broke the perimeter fencing around her compound and submerged her house giving her family no chance to rescue any of their belongings, hence, their decision to take refuge in the church.
“We could only rescue our children while the flood destroyed our property. We now cook and stay in the church.
“We do not know how long we will stay here because we are still in the raining season and our houses are still messed up.’’
Deacon Abbas Alao, a resident at Ogbowan Street, Ugbor, attributed the cause of the flood disaster to poor drainage system in the area.
“This is the first time I am experiencing such flood disaster of this magnitude.
“I think the problem is lack of proper drainage system, the flood from Benso Idahosa University and other areas flowed to this place and broke the fence and destroyed property in our house,” Alao said.
Other flood affected areas visited in Benin were the Bonisk Crescent and Sam Excellent Atitiekae Avenue, Ugbor, situated within GRA, and Erediawa Road, off Benin-Sapele road.
In his response after assessing the damages caused by the flood, Special Adviser to the Governor on Special Duties, Mr Yakubu Gowon, said relief materials would be given to the victims, while measures would be put in place to prevent future occurrence.
“The first relief to these victims is to visit them, sympathize with them and assess the extent of damage caused by the disaster.
“We have relief materials in our warehouse and the state government will roll out these relief materials to the victims,” he said.
Yakubu said the cause of the flooding at the Ugbor area of GRA was due to building on the natural water way, and urged prospective developers to always seek advice from the approximate authority before they build.
The Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability, Dame, Omoua, Oni-Okpaku, who was also on the assessment tour, said a permanent solution was being worked out to control flooding challenges in the state.
Oni-Okpaku said the drains in Erediawa area would be de-silted and the water channelled to the moat in the area before a permanent solution of de-silting the moat and putting a stone base was being finalised.
She called for proper waste disposal, regular cleaning of drains and adjusting to ways to mitigate climate change.
“Sensitisation is ongoing against building indiscriminately and improper waste disposal.
“We want to revive our neighbourhood watch so that our traditional rulers will help checkmate indiscriminate building in their domain.’’
At the time of the assessment visit, some occupants were still bailing flood water from their houses, while others were counting their loses.