The Patriot Institute of Journalism and Arts (PIJA), Lance Magazine is a public-centric independent media organisation dedicated to fighting injustice, fostering social justice and community development through the telling and retelling of the marginalised-oriented stories.
Several communities in Kirfi Local Government Area of Bauchi State have been devastated and ravaged by flood caused by a downpour, even as residents say that it is the worst disaster in over 70 years in the area.
The newsmen learnt that the incident, which caused destruction to hundreds of houses and many farmlands, happened on Thursday morning.
The areas seriously affected are: Celedi, Magaji, Ningi, Baba, Jarmai, Turaki, Waziri, Kaldiri, Garkuwa, Karofi, Kwagal, Danba, Kawu Moni, Nasarawa, Dewu, Babar and Badara.
Speaking in a telephone interview with the newsmen, chairman, Kirfi local government area, Garba Musa, said that “the extent of the damage is very devastating;” noting that from his on-the-spot assessment to some of the areas, over 600 houses were totally destroyed.
He added that over 100 hectares of farmlands of rice, maize, millet and other crops were all destroyed.
Musa said: “From what I saw in the locations I visited, the extent of damage is very, very devastating. I’ve seen so many houses that were washed to the ground; I have seen so many animals that died as a result of the impact of the running water.
“I have seen areas that were, before now, roads but are now washed away by the flood, resulting in very deep gully erosion. I have seen farmlands washed away, the crops all covered with sand, I have seen compounds, including the fence and the main building completely washed away.
The Overseeing Director, Planning, Research and Statistics, SEMA, during an assessment of the areas
“I have also seen some houses where property could not be salvaged but were all destroyed,
“I have seen foodstuffs submerged in water, they managed to salvage some and put them in the sun to dry. I have seen a well that sank to the ground because it was built on sand. I have seen parts of shops and mosques washed away, with some of the properties carried by the rain and lots of others.
“Unfortunately, all these happened because our forests are being depleted and as a result, when it rains, the places that used to hold water in the bushes cannot do so again, so it has to go to the river and the only way is to flow through the houses.”
Asked on the extent of damage, he said, “In Celedi alone, not less than 150 houses were destroyed and razed to the ground, apart from the ones that were soaked. There are many other villages that were affected. I’ll give an estimate of 600 houses destroyed in the local government area.
“I have not yet gone through the whole local government, but not less than 100 hectares of farmlands of rice, maize, millet other crops were destroyed.”
The council chairman added, “I was opportune to have spoken to many elderly people in those areas, all of them confessed that, so far, they have never seen such magnitude of running water in the time like this.”
The Overseeing Director, Research, Planning and Statistics, State Emergency Management Agency, Adamu Nayola, also confirmed the incident.
He said: “There was a very serious and devastating flood that ravaged many communities in Kirfi local government area of Bauchi State. The incident was caused by heavy rain which lasted for many hours. It started from around 2pm and lasted till 5am.
“The water came from unknown sources and, coupled with the lack of proper drainages in the communities, it was a very terrible situation that the affected areas have never experienced in over 70 years.
“Although no life was lost, hundreds of mud houses were totally destroyed and the victims are very devastated and traumatised because of the serious situation they are facing due to lack of places to sleep, no food to eat and many other woes.
“In fact, we met a resident who told us that he lost over 30 goats and sheep. Foodstuffs were destroyed, farmlands were destroyed, many of them are stranded.”
He called for immediate assistance from good spirited individuals, local and international non-governmental organisations, Presidential Committee of Flood Relief and Rehabilitation, and North-East Development Commission to come in to help in offering assistance and relief to the people.
Meanwhile, the Search and Rescue Officer who is the acting Permanent Secretary, Bala Lame, has said that the Bauchi State government has immediately approved the release of some relief materials to the people to ameliorate their suffering.
“We have a quick response from the state government. We have just been given about three trailers of food items and as I speak with you now, these items are being loaded. The items are 600 bags of maize (100kg) and 600 bags of rice (50kg).
“The governor even directed me to immediately take the items to the people and in fact, he mandated me to move those things there this night for onward distribution to the people,” he said.