September 19, 2020, will remain a night of gloom for several residents in parts of Kwara State where the heavy rainstorm ravaged communities, destroyed houses and shops, blew-off rooftops, and left many less-privileged persons homeless.
Aliyu and his family were already asleep when a heavy rainstorm began. Struck by fear and turmoil, they watched helplessly as the rainstorm blew-off their rooftops allowing heavy water flow into their apartment. Their properties were destroyed and their children began wailing. But the rainstorm only hit harder leaving them with no option than to seek shelter and protection in neighbouring houses––the very few protected from the havoc.
“This kind of incident is unprecedented. The rainstorm destroyed my house and shop. I can’t do anything right now. My children and wife are yet to find any stable place to settle, we all went separately in the night to seek refuge at any place we find and meet again in the morning,” Aliyu Akuji narrated his ordeal to this reporter.
Aliyu Akuji is a resident of Akuji Compound in Ilorin Kwara State and the heavy rainstorm is double jeopardy for him. Apart from the fact that it blew away his residence, it also destroyed his shop leaving him homeless and jobless, he explained that life has become hard for him and his family since the occurrence on Saturday.
This reporter who visited some areas in Ilorin, the state capital, observed that since the incident, victims are still groaning amid the lack of shelter as they continue to encounter a series of persistent rainfall accompanied by heavy flooding in the days after.
Many of these displaced persons are taking refuge in mosques while others are putting up with their families and friends living within the neighbourhood.
According to a Kwara State Government survey, at least 12 local government areas with about 15,000 households across 357 communities were affected. 13 deaths were also recorded during the incident and farmers suffered the loss of N10bn and damage of properties were also recorded.
The areas affected by the rainstorm include Ilorin East, Ilorin West, Ilorin South, Patigi, Edu, Moro, Kaiama, Ifelodun, Baruten, Asa, Isin, and Irepodun LGAs among others.
Earlier this year, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) alerted Nigerians to prepare for heavy rain between the months of August and October.
The agency, in its alert, referenced a prediction from Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMeT) in February, as well as Nigeria Hydrological Service Agency (NIHSA) in May, informing Nigerians of impending heavy rainfall due to climate change and the depleting of the ozone layer.
Some of the displaced persons who spoke with this reporter could not restrain their emotions as they reflected on the loss the ravaging storm has brought upon them. With deep anguish, they called on the government, corporate organisations, and privileged individuals to come to their aid.
In Olokonla Compound, Ilorin, Kwara State, out of the 27 households in the compound only 3 buildings were untouched. Alhaji Sambo Olokonla explained that more than 100 people were displaced by the rainstorm within the household.
“Husbands, wives, and children are sleeping anywhere they see, we only met in the morning. Anybody who sees the havoc wreaked on us by this rainstorm does not need to be told before they know that we need assistance,” Alhaji Olokonla said with dismay.
One of the affected residents who identified herself as Alhaja Fatiu explained that the rainstorm has made life unbearable for her, her husband and her children. She explained that her husband also got injured during the incident.
“All our rooftops are leaking and many of our properties sank in the water. We can’t find any place to place our heads. In fact, my husband got injured when the incident occurred.”
Alhaji Ibrahim Bobonkiri, a resident of Bobonkiri compound in Ilorin Kwara state recounted the ordeal of his family during the incident. He explained that the neighbouring residents who were not affected by the rainstorm offered them rooms in which they squashed themselves. He also said some residents lodged in the nearby mosques to sleep.
“5 out of 7 households in this compound were affected. All of us are just loitering around, neighbouring houses squat few of us in their houses, while others squatted in the mosque.”
He appealed to the government and the public for household materials and other relief materials.
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Control (IDMC) survey in 2018 reveals that “every year, floods, storms, earthquakes, and other natural hazards are the reasons which forced two-thirds of new internal displacements in 2018 representing 17.2 millions of people to abandon their homes.”
The agency also noted that “losing everything is usually the first of many disruptions that the victims of natural disasters usually suffer.”
It also added that “affected people may be forced to move multiple times once they become displaced, and it can take months or even years before they can return home. Those who do return often face unsafe conditions and the prospect of becoming displaced again by the next disaster.” This now rings true for the individuals affected by the Kwara rainstorm.
The rainstorm in Kwara, aside from displaced persons, also affected economic activities. Several shops were destroyed alongside valuable properties.
Recounting her loss, Roheemat Jimoh who is into event planning, decoration and cake baking explained that the rain got into her shop and destroyed some bags of flour and cakes meant for an event.
“The rainstorm destroyed some bags of flours, colouring, mirrors, cakes, and other materials in my shop which are worth almost #100,000. We even have a wedding to plan on Saturday but the materials that we are supposed to use have been destroyed and you know our customers won’t listen and we are yet to find a way out.”
Like Roheemat, Abdulgafar’s provision store was destroyed by the storm. He explained that the rain got into his shop and drenched many of his provisions in water.
“The rain destroyed a lot of things in my shop, most of the glasses and cartons of provisions in my shop were destroyed. As of now, we are yet to start a normal business, I am still looking for a way out.”
Ismail Oke, who works in the aluminium business also recounted the havoc the rainstorm wreaked on his business, appealing to the government to come to his aid.
“The rainstorm destroyed some aluminium materials and other properties worthy of N500,000. All the glasses that we wished to deliver to some people too have been destroyed by the flood and rainstorm. We call on the government to assist us,” Ismail said.
What Has The Government Done Since?
On Monday, two days after the incident, the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq set up a nine-person committee to conduct an assessment of the damage caused by the rainstorm in different parts of the state especially the state capital Ilorin.
The committee is to collate data of areas affected and determine how the state government can offer support to the victims based on available resources.
The Governor and his cabinet assured the community that the state government will promptly provide palliatives to the victims to ease their hardship.
During his visit to President Muhammad Buhari on Monday, the governor appealed to Federal Government to assist the state with food items, housing materials and other relief materials.
In the meantime, the state government has flagged off the distribution of palliatives to the residents of Jebba and some north senatorial districts and there are expectations that the support would be extended to other communities as soon as their data is collated.
The Chairlady of the Committee on the rainstorm incident, Mrs Saadat Modibbo Kawu on behalf of the government commiserated with the victims, she explained that the government is working round the clock to assist the victims.
“We have been going around, what we have been doing is to capture those houses that have been affected and to commiserate with the families, we have been to many local government areas within the state and we are still doing that, hopefully within the shortest period of time, the data will be submitted and the committee will do the distribution of relief materials.”
She, however, assured the victims of the government’s impending intervention and advised the residents of the state to ensure that they use good household materials in building their houses and to endeavour to seek the advice of building experts saying that most of the affected houses are old and too weak to withstand heavy rainstorm.
Meanwhile, some non-governmental organizations and wealthy individuals have also come to the aid of some of the affected victims. However, there remain scores of affected victims who are yet to receive any form of support from the government, corporate organisations, NGO, or individuals at the time of filing this report.
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