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BY: Chief Paul Odenigbo

True to the predictions of the Nigerian Meteorological Institute, NIMET and National Hydrological Service Agency, NIHSA, the country is presently experiencing rainstorms with devastating consequences on lives and property in different parts of Nigeria, including our dear Anambra state. The heavy downpour have also adversely affected other parts of the world. 
Scientists have blamed this unfortunate development on climate change due to the depletion of the ozone layer by carbon monoxide being emitted daily by manufacturing industries across the globe. This has increased the intensity of the Sunray on the usually snowy Arctic region of the world, thus melting and releasing more water into the oceans and seas of the Earth. All rivers, streams, creeks or lakes in the World are somehow inter connected. 

Be that as it may, flooding especially in riverine areas, and surprisingly in the Sahel region of Nigeria and sub-Sahara Africa, is already wreaking havoc. Flash floods are also causing unimaginable devastation in different parts of our country. Here in Anambra state, the unfortunate development has compelled our usually responsive governor, Chief Willie Obiano to visit, comfort and give succour to victims of flood disaster.  On Tuesday (July 31, 2018), the governor embarked in shuttle humanitarian visits to Anaku, Nteje, Igbariam, Nnewi and Amawbia to commiserate with the families of victims of flood devastation. He has equally given directives to relevant government agencies and departments, and provided the wherewhithal to them for palliative measures in areas adversely affected by flash floods, and erosion exacerbated by it. The Anambra State helmsman has in addition made a passionate appeal to the federal government to, without further delay, fulfill its promise to compensate victims of the historic 2012 flood disaster.

Even as concerted efforts are being  made by the state government to ameliorate the plight of victims of this year's flash floods it is imperative for the citizenry to equally take proactive measures to minimize the devastating effects of torrential rains in this season. Despite its efforts at disilting blocked drainages in most cities and suburban settlements in the state, government has for the umpteenth period appealed passionately  to the citizenry to desist from dumping refuse into the gutters,  especially when it rains. This is because such unhygienic and unpatriotic actions have, more often than not, blocked the drainages, thus causing flash floods to find alternative route which regrettably cause havoc to hapless and innocent people and their property. To bring the harsh effects of flash floods to the barest minimum, urban dwellers should stop dumping wastes into gutters. People should also stop building illegal structures on natural pathways of flowing water. They should equally avoid movements whenever there is heavy downpour in order to save their lives. 

Recently, the National Orientation Agency,  NOA, issued a public statement on precautionary measures to avoid thunderstorm and flash floods disaster. The Agency advised the populace to shun use of mobile phones whenever it is raining, switch off their television sets, stay away from transformers  and electronic objects as well as mirrors and glass objects, in addition to avoiding taking baths when it is raining. NOA equally cautioned against taking shelter under or holding metallic objects during violent rainstorms.

Inasmuch as NIMET and NIHSA did not forecast another deluge in the magnitude of the 2012 flood disaster, which was exacerbated by the unfortunate release of extra water from the Lake Nyos Dam by the authorities in the Republic of Cameroon, people living in riverine communities in Anambra state should remain vigilant, and prepare for eventualities and contingencies. After all, there is a common saying by Ndigbo that "nkwucha aburo ujo"  meaning that "discretion is the better part of valour." 

Residents of flood prone communities should therefore get ready to quickly relocate to Internally Displaced Persons,  IDP camps established in eight local government areas in the state. The IDP camps or Holding Centres are located at the headquarters of the following local government areas namely; Anambra East and West, Ayamelum, Ogbaru, Onitsha North and South,  Awka North and Ihiala. The Anambra State government in conjunction with the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA are ready to tackle the challenges that would arise from likely flood disaster in this rainy season. God forbid. Nonetheless, to be forewarned is to be forearmed#

CHIEF PAUL ODENIGBO is the Executive Secretary of the Anambra State Emergency Management Agency,  SEMA.
Wednesday, August 1, 2018. 

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