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Lamentation about flooding in Owerri

Ndubisi Kanu and Sam Mbakwe laid a solid foundation for Owerri. But governors who came later undid it. Perhaps they were sent to destroy the place. Who sent them? They certainly knew that as a result we would have flooding of the city in future of which this year is the worst.
The noteworthy thing is that victims of floods who are on the increase have been on their own. Help is not coming to them at all from anywhere. The federal housing estate on Egbu road is worst hit. A resident victim, Goddy Emekalam who expressed regrets about this, has just returned from 2 weeks’ refuge in his village.
One night as he was in bed with his family, dirty, brown flood poured into his house from a famous nearby burrow-pit there. The water rose to the bed-level and soaked everything on the floor. They got up and started packing things on to top, of tables, shelves, beds and other high furniture. Not much could be saved. There was no way they could block in-flow of the rushing water. Family members were capable of catching cold in the flooded house. They put on whatever warm clothes they could find, locked up and quickly ran out of the house. Members of affected households went to the dry, safe part of the estate standing about and hanging around till day break. On the night in question when the family had to move away, a wall put up by a neighbour against flooding, was pushed down, allowing water flow freely into the man’s house. You would think the house was another lake as in several other homes around.
The family decided that Mr  Emekalam should take temporary refuge at the village and remain there until the flooding dried up. He is just re-settling after a tedious clean-up of the rot made up of mud and debris brought into his house and entire compound. It took days to do that. He experienced a total dislocation of his family life, more than he can explain. Meanwhile over 30 households must have suffered a worse fate. They are dislodged permanently.
Where the flood comes from is a large stagnant, smelling pond, full of reptiles of different types and sizes. So that when the pond overflows the area is spread with snakes, swimming along in the flood, not to talk of huge swarm mosquitoes.
The probable high cost of closing the lake and draining the water scares everybody. But the chairman of the neighbourhood association, Chief Edison Nwadioha, a kinsman of governor Ihedioha says no. The problem can be easily solved at a not so exorbitant cost. There are cheap options if only the government can consult us, the residents. We know the original underground mapping of drainage channels which worked when the channels were first made. There was no flooding whatsoever in Owerri even if there was thunder storm for days.
Water does not flow out again since the channels that emptied into the nearby Otamiri river have been totally blocked. Rather water flows back into the pond, creating the havoc we now have. Once the channels are re-opened, we shall have succour. Perhaps the burrow-pit can be closed and the land re-claimed to site a needed public utility there that will employ people and be a blessing.
There is a spill-over effect too.  The flood has weakened all the asphalt roads and destroyed them. No matter what you do, the roads will always collapse within a short time after construction. The roads that are to serve as exits and diversions for easing traffic on major roads do not serve as such. That’s why you have traffic knots at the junctions of Chukwuma Nwoha, MCC/Wetheral, Fire Service and perhaps Emmanuel college. The situation in the federal housing must be helping to cause other  traffic bottle necks elsewhere. The federal staff school in the area is now permanently under water. The children have to study in flooded classrooms with their shoes soaked. What a way to raise the children of a nation!
There is patent fear that the situation will get worse in the places (about five of them) where the artificial lakes are despoiling the environment. If we care to know they are claiming lives through epidemics of different infectious diseases and the destruction of small farm holdings which sustain a lot of families. Many shops and small enterprises have closed up.
How long will it take for the authorities to take firm action? asks Nwadioha. He is calling frequent meetings of the neighbourhood association to see what can be done to make the new government act. The last meeting considered writing a petition and, in the alternative, a mass demonstration. As the area is a federal estate, it considers also the federal government being brought into the picture. But it felt the state government would have to back such a move.
Flooding has been a perennial calamity in Owerri since 2002. Building contractors, with the approval of government excavated the so-called pits and created the dirty lakes as part of and within the city’s development “master plan”. I call this sabotage. Government should see it as a landmine which it must accord top priority to set off and discharge, and shame the masterminds.

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