ABEOKUTA: More than twelve people are reportedly dead following a ravaging flood that hit Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital and its environs after a torrential rain on Friday.
Of those feared dead, three of them (Mrs Alirah Akintobi, Shuaib and Abideen, comprising mother and her two sons) have been confirmed dead at Ilawo area of Abeokuta.
The kiosk where Mrs Akintobi runs her petty store was swept away on Friday evening by the flood, but while trying to escape with her children, she fell and got drowned along with the two boys in the flood that reached lintel level of houses in some affected areas.
Their remains were buried on Saturday morning amid tears by residents of Ilawo neighborhood, The Nation was told when our correspondent visited the scene of the incident.
Scores of residents were sacked from their homes and shops in many locations in Abeokuta and its environs whose apartments were either submerged or brought down by the flood.
Household items, goods and other valuables were destroyed. The Nation sighted many families in Ijeja, Ijaiye, Gbangban, Amolasho, Kuto, Olomore areas still battling to salvage what was left of their properties.
In Ago Ijesha area, eye witnesses, at different times, told The Nation that a mother and her toddler â€“ daughter were swept away by the flood.
However, the remains of the daughter were picked up on Saturday morning by the edge of a canal which coursed through many communities and two Local Government areas before opening into the Odoâ€“Ogun (Ogun River). The search for the mother is still on.
A source in Ijeja area where the flood damaged the bridge linking it with other parts of the state capital, said families of missing persons were sighted following the canal path and searching for their beloved ones suspected to have been washed away in the flood.
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Prince Obalanlege Joseph, Chairman, Red Cross Society of Nigeria, Ogun State chapter, described the flood as â€œdevastating with many loss of lives.â€
Obalanlege said feelers from the Emergency First Aid Team (EFAT) unit of the Red Cross Society hinted that about eight people have died in the flood and that their remains were deposited at the morgue of the state hospital, Ijaiye.
He advised Abeokuta residents to desist from obstructing the water ways by dumping refuse inside the drainage system and also called on the state government to enforce the physical environment and building regulations of the state which bars people from erecting structures on drainage pathways and flood plains.
According to him, indiscriminate dumping of refuse on water channels as well as building on flood planes are the contributory factors to the devastating flood experienced by residents on Friday evening.
â€œIt is quite devastating, so many lives have been lost, we are rushing down to Ijaye general hospital because we have a report that about eight bodies have been deposited at the mortuary from different areas.
â€œWe are going to create awareness, appealing to the government, the Ogun State government is trying but still, many more have to be done, the community has to be sensitized on dumping their refuse.
â€ And we have to appeal to the town planning authority, there are some houses that are too close to the canals here and that is why we have so many people affected,â€ he said.
The Commissioner of Police in Ogun State, Ahmed Iliyasu, told Nation that he was on the field to assess the situation, identify with people and share in the feelings but declined to give casualty figure.
The State Commissioner for Works, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, and officials of the State Emergency Management Agency(SEMA) were also sighted making assessment of the devastation done to both private and public properties.
In Amolasho and Kuto, major commercial areas of Abeokuta, goods and structures worth tens of millions of naira were swept away and emptied into a canal by the Isabo state High court area where the flood was most fiercest.
Thirty â€“ five year old Ms Somuyiwa Bisola Farida, proprietress of Bisola Stores had her stores and warehouse for assorted goods and beverages ruined by the flood which, she said, she saw coming towards her shop with fury but could not dare to venture rescue anything lest she gets submerged.
Farida told The Nation that preliminary checks have revealed she has lost over N5m worth of goods, lamenting that the latest incident is about the fourth time her goods had gone down the drain following Amolashoâ€™s perennial flooding.
It is not only goods and household items that were destroyed, dozens of vehicles packed by the roadsides were also submerged with some of them dragged into gullies and pits.
The Nation sighted some youths battling to dig up one Toyota car buried near the Holy Cross Hospital, Ijaye, Abeokuta, by the flood.
Areas most hard hit are Ijaye, Amolasho, Kuto, Isale Egbein, Olomore, Leme, Adigbe among others.
The Archdiocesan Headquarters of the Celestial Church of Christ, Ijaye, Abeokuta was also severely hit with about a dozen vehicles submerged along with worship and musical equipment. The flood also flattened parts of the churchâ€™s perimeter fence.
Residential buildings and shops numbering 15 within the area were affected as some of the structures either collapsed, tilt or got weakened as to make them unsafe for habitation.
The rain which started around 4:30pm on Friday evening caught Abeokuta residents unaware, brought in in its trail flood and devastation.
Thousands were also locked down for hours following the massive flood that took over all access roads.
The Assistant Chief Planning Officer, , National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA), Southwest, Babatunde Olowookere, said the agency got information about the flood at about 2am on Saturday, adding that the agencyâ€™s official were on ground to assess the situation and how to render assistance.
The Commissioner for Environment, Bolaji Oyeleye, the state government got the information before hand that there would be heavy rain leading to flooding in many places, saying that informed why the government embarked upon drainage clearing across the state.
Oyeleye blamed the flood in parts on indiscriminate dumping of refuse on waterways and building of structures on flood planes and canals by residents.
He advised people to henceforth, desist from obstructing water course with refuse or erecting structures on them.
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