Like other states in Nigeria, Gombe has also been hit by flood and windstorms that accompanied most rainfalls this year.
There is reminiscence in Gombe State. The year has reminded Gombe people of an unprecedented natural disaster that struck the state especially Gombe metropolis in 2004. Called Gombe Tsunami, the tsunami claimed several lives, destroyed several houses, submerged farmlands just as economic and domestic animals went with the phenomenon.
Regrettably, eight years after the destructions, the state has again witnessed a barrage of misfortunes consequent upon rampaging flood that followed this year’s rainfalls. Worst hit are Yelmatu Deba, Balanga, Dukku and Gombe Local Government Areas. In Gombe Local Government, about 13 areas were affected: Federal Low Cost, Kundulum, Nasssarawo, Kakagawa, Herowa Gana, Dawaki, Jekadafari, Tudun Wada and others.
At the last count, Gombe, has recorded 14 deaths according to the official records. But analysts chide the number, arguing that the number of deaths has exceeded 14. Similarly, over 90 houses have been destroyed, more than 500 families displaced, several farmlands submerged while several domestic animals have been killed.
Recently, a camp was opened at Lawanti Primary School in Akko Local Government Area where over 70 households who are mainly victims of flood rated incidences from wuru village are currently taking shelter. The people have been there since September 15 rainfalls that wrecked havoc on the community. The same rainfall also affected the people of Angwa Yelwa in Kwadon in Yelmatu Deba local Government Area, a suburb of Gombe metropolis. The disaster destroyed over 40 houses just as it killed many live stocks.
Usman Mohammed, a resident of the area and victim of the circumstance who spoke to Journalists described the situation as very terrible, narrating how he escaped the flood.“The flood got to my chest region as I swam to salvage a few things from the house. The good news is that no body died but over 40 houses were destroyed and more than 35 live stocks including goats, cows and fowls were also killed”.
Also, Hajiya Laraba Ahmed Kawu is the Director, Admin and Finance, DAF as well as Desk officer handling Emergencies in the State Emergency management Agency, SEMA. She narrated the story of flood disaster in Gombe and measures taken so far.
“We have had several cases of flood in and outside Gombe virtually every Local Government. In virtually every village, every town, every hamlet, there is this case of flood disaster. But where the flood hit most is the Gombe Metroplos because, you have people building on water ways, people dumping refuse all over the place. You know in the village, we have enough plan to develop. So, Gombe is the worst hit. There is this flood in Balanga Local Government as a result of the overflow of the dam in Camoroon.
The effect took place here. Several houses and farmlands were submerged, totally destroyed and 4 people died there as a result of the overflow. And there was this 25 July flood in Gombe. That was the greatest in Gombe which affected 13 wards. Over 500 people were displayed. Some people lost completely everything they had to the flood. And mostly, in Idi area where they built on water ways.
We had flood all over. So, it will be precise if I tell you that over 2000 persons were affected. We Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the moment at Lawanti camp. The state government has intervened in several ways. As you know our work here is to investigate and file report immediate we get a report.
Then we bring in the report and write to government. The government has helped in different areas. They have bought relief materials ranging from building materials to food items here and there and we have delivered to appropriate communities. The same day the victims were gathered at Lawanti, I took blankets, buckets, slippers and eating bowls we had on ground and gave them”.
Mrs. Lucy Usen is the State Coordinator for Center for Community Health and Development in the state. She spoke on the assistance rendered to the victims at the camp so far.
“So when we heard about the flood, we were invited by SEMA to come and take a look at what was on ground. So, we were in camp with SEMA and Red Cross and we did rapid assessment to identify the number of children in the camp because our main interests are the children. So, we now identified their needs. Part of the challenges they are having in the camp is assess to portable water and they have no adequate space for sleeping.
They sleep on bare mat. For the women, they have about 3 to 4 spaces. Over 70 women and over 116 children were identified in camp and the problem of hygiene and sanitation was also staring at them and there were sort of open defecation here and there. So, what we did was to after the needs assessment, we came back to the camp again and began some camp activities. We went into education, hygiene promotion and sanitation education.
Then we provided water and food to some extent and materials for children such as balls for their recreational activities. We knew that we don’t have adequate recourses and there are a lot of resources hidden around and so, we went about mobilizing for resources. So far, we have mobilized Ashaka Cement to the site and they have provided them with about 50 bags of rice and 50 mosquito nets.
“Water is a huge challenge because they drink from the pond and flood has already contaminated the pond. They don’t have adequate space for nsleep. Mosquito used to be their problem but yesterday, Ashaka Cement brought 50 nets and 100 mats for them so that that can be controlled. Now that the school has resumed, they are obstructing the school activities. We can them to be relocated so that they don’t become a challenge to the school they are occupying”, she added.
Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo who visited the flood ravaged Angwa Yelma Community as well as other affected places on the wake of the incident said “we came to commiserate with the people who lost their properties, their houses or their belongings or people who were injured in the event of this heavy down pour that took place.
And like we said six months ago, there were forecasts that there will be heavy downpour up to the end of October, so we are still educating our people to continue to exercise caution for the next two/three weeks the forecast says there will be heavy downpour.
The most important thing is that we have taken measures to make sure that the effect of this rainfall on houses and other assets are limited. We are also cautioning people that just as it has affected the houses, our farmlands, our animals are affected too”.
Meanwhile, on the effort to resettle the victims, the DAF said the state government has made available the sum of N200 million which will be distributed amongst the victims. She also added “the state government has intervened in several ways.”
As you know our work here is to investigate and file report immediate we get a report. Then we bring in the report and write to government. The government has helped in different areas. They have bought relief materials ranging from building materials to food items here and there and we have delivered to appropriate communities.
“What we plan to do here is that the moment the money comes, we are not going to buy any materials, we will give out cheques so that anybody can go and buy what they want to buy. They know their priorities. We will give out cheques so that they will go and buy the materials and repair their houses”.