By Stanley Onyekwere
In the wake of predictions of intensive torrential rainfall, residents of Abuja, the nation’s capital city have been cautioned to avoid flooded areas, so as to avert the dangers of falling victims of looming severe flood.
Making this point at the weekend, the Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) decried the increasing rate of flood in the Territory, which ut attributed to residents’ apathy towards government’s directives and early warnings.
This is coming against the backdrop of the recent recovery the body of one Mr. Garba Joseph, 43 year old from Akoka-Edo of Edo State, by FEMA’s Search and Rescue team, after two days search from a flooded river around TradeMoore Estate, Lugbe, in the nation’s capital.
It was gathered that one of FEMA’s volunteer/vanguard, Kenneth Chima, who captured the incident on video said “they were four men that tried walking through the water and I kept warning them to go back, three of them went back but only this man insisted on crossing, unfortunately the water overpowered him and washed him away”.
However, the Director General of FEMA, Idriss Abbas, who disclosed that the body of the victim has since been laid to rest at Lugbe cemetery by his family, also sympathised with the family of the victim.
Idriss assured residents of the commitment of the FCT Administration in reducing disasters to the barest minimum, stressing that FEMA advocates prevention and mitigation rather than relief.
He however emphasised the need for residents to adhere to instructions and early warnings from relevant authorities, attitudinal change is the key to reducing disasters to the barest minimum in the FCT.
He noted that most recent predictions has warned of torrential rainfall and floodings from August, 2020, which he said the Agency has been carrying out aggressive sensitisation of residents to educate them on ways to prevent the impending flood.
According to him “most of the deaths we have recorded in the past from flood in the FCT were as a result of non-compliance to instructions and early warnings.
The FEMA boss advised residents not to underestimate the strength of water when it is flooded; “what we are experiencing now is flash flood, the water builds up speedily and comes unnoticed hence very dangerous.”
He therefore appealed to residents to desist from unwholesome environmental practices especially indiscriminate waste disposal on water ways, building on flood plains, as these could block water ways and lead to flooding.
He further called on community leaders, religious leaders to be charged with the responsibility of sensitizing their subjects, especially those who are living close to flood prone areas to move to higher grounds to avoid being washed away by flood water.
He added that relevant authorities have been on their toes evacuating refuse around the FCT, distilling drainages and expanding narrow water channels to enable free flow of water for a safer FCT
The FEMA boss further urged residents and developers to always ensure they follow approved building plans and desist from manipulating the building plans to suit their own personal interest, in turn endangering their lives.
“Some of the houses affected by flood are Houses that their owners try to extend the fence of the house to the embankments of the rivers close to them, just to add a few meters to their originally approved plot.
“We recently organized a meeting with our Volunteers, Vangards and Divers from all the area Councils within the FCT to educate them on how they can sensitize their people on how to prevent disasters to minimize loss of lives and properties.
“We have embarked on community to community flood sensitization campaigns in the FCT and also mounted billboards at all the flood prone points warning off and cautioning residents from these danger areas”, the FEMA boss added.
Idriss emphasized the Agency’s commitment to reducing disasters to a barest minimum in the FCT, and called on residents to complement the efforts of the FCT Administration by doing the needful.
In another development a combined team of FEMA, NEMA, The Nigeria Police, NSCDC, and Spcial Force have successfully rescued the 3 trapped occupants a truck loaded with breverage products, that crashed into a residential building in Madala axis of the FCT, in the early hours of Saturday.
It was gathered that the victims, who sustained several degree of injuries have since been taken to the Zuba General hospital for proper treatment.
Reacting to the incident, the DG FEMA boss called on motorist plying the roads to apply more caution by reducing speed when driving ,to avert more accidents as the roads have become logged with water and very slippery due to the persistent and heavy rain fallls in this rainy season.