For residents of Nru Community in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, Monday 12th June, 2012 will continue to haunt them. They are not likely to forget that day in a hurry because of the magnitude of loss visited on them by a strange windstorm that raced through the community at midnight leaving in its wake.
In fact, by the time the heavy rain that followed ended, many in the community had been turned into refugees in their own land and squatters on the heaps of the ruins of their former abodes. No fewer than 40 residential houses were destroyed in the area.
Many individuals and organisations are yet to come to terms with what hit them and why. Churches, schools and community property were ravaged by the rushing winds and rains that swept everything on sight, as the community members were fast asleep.
It was like a community visited by robbers in the thick of the night. The scars of that natural disaster are written all over the place: roof tops blown off, houses uprooted and landmarks torn into shred by the wild wind.
The magnificent building housing the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, NruNsukka and the administrative and classroom blocks at the Government Technical College, Nsukka were all destroyed by the ravaging storm.
One of the immediate outcomes of the storm is that some of the victims who are yet to find alternative shelter, are still sleeping, cooking and eating outside their houses thereby exposing themselves to serious health hazards.
“This is the first of this kind of disaster in this area,” declared Hon. Celestine Ogbu, the councilor representing the area. He spoke after conducting journalists round the community.
“However, we thank God that no death has been recorded so far; you know this happened in the night, so considering the level of disaster.
It was only a miracle that none of the victims died”.
While appealing to the National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA) to come to the aid of the victims, he stated that the damage was beyond the capacity of the Nsukka Local Government Area.
He said, “What we have here is colossal damage, which cannot be handled by Nsukka Local Government Area with its meager allocation. So, on behalf of our community, I am appealing to the Enugu State Emergency Management Agency to collaborate with NEMA and see to the assistance of the victims of this disaster. Government should come to the rescue of my people by clearing the debris off the roads and giving some succor to the victims”
But of all the victims, none is as affected as a widow with five children, Mrs. EuchariaOnyeke whose five room-building was destroyed by the rain storm.
Onyeke, who was sighted crying aloud, when our correspondent visited the area, said her future and that of her children had been destroyed by the unfortunate incident.
She said she and her children were stranded, saying that they had not received any succour from any quarter.
“We lost all our property to the rain. I don’t know where my children and I will be sleeping; we have been sleeping and eating outside since then,” she lamented .
When LEADERSHIP WEEKEND visited the Holy Redeemer Catholic Parish Nru, where the storm removed the roof of the one-story building housing the parish priest and assistant parish priest as well as other workers in the parish, the parish priest.
Rev Fr Cyril Okpe pleaded with the government and well-meaning individuals to come to the aid of the parish.
“The damage is too much for the parishioners to bear. I plead with the government and people of goodwill to come and help us”.
Commenting on the disaster, the Secretary, Nsukka Local Government Council, Barrister Offorbuike Igwebueze described the damage caused by rain in Nru as very monumental, disclosing that the council was making effort to contact relevant agencies for necessary assistance to the victims.
LEADERSHIP WEEKEND gathered that officials National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA) have already visited the affected households and promised to come to their aide.
The NEMA officials were said have expressed sympathy with the victims during the visit and urged Nsukka Local Government Council to do a comprehensive report of the loss recorded and forward same to the agency with immediate effect. It is not clear how soon relief materials will be sent to the victims.