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Akwa Ibom SEMA warns coastal communities over looming flood disaster

Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State
Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State

Dennis Udoma

Akwa Ibom State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), has warned residents in coastal communities of the state, to be on the alert following this year’s rainfall situation and over flow of river banks.

Deputy-Governor, Mr. Moses Ekpo who is also the State Chairman of SEMA gave the warning on Friday during the awareness campaigns embarked upon by his office in Ikot Abasi, Itu, Oron and Ibeno Local Government Areas.

The Deputy-Governor, who was represented by a Director in his office, Mrs. Ekaete Ekanem said the campaigns was to arm the people with knowledge of what to do when confronted with the challenges of flood disaster.

She said, while no one prays for disaster, that the state government found it necessary to inform the people to prepare for the situation especially, the vulnerable ones residing in the low-lands and advised them to relocate to up-lands until the heavy rains subside to avoid loss of lives in an event of flood.

While calling on council chairmen, traditional rulers, youth leaders and other stakeholders to spread the message through town criers and the church, she released these dedicated phone numbers; 08182853787 or 08062294105 for the use of the public and advised against building structures and make-shift shops on natural water ways as well as dumping of waste in gutters to avoid obstructing the water ways during heavy rains.

The 15 Local Government Areas that might be affected are; Ibeno, Oron, Eket, Esit Eket, Onna, Mbo, Udung Uko, Okobo, Urue Offong Oruko, Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin, Eastern Obolo, Itu, Ibiono Ibom and Uruan.

This is coming on the heels of a recent rainfall and prospects of flooding situation in the country issued by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET).

A statement posted by the NIMET, in its official website also warned of possible flooding this year between the months of August and October, and advised Nigerians, especially those in the affected states to take note of these forecasts.

According to the agency, “The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, in exercise of its mandate to monitor the weather and climate of the country at all times, and working in collaboration with the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency has been monitoring rainfall events across the Country.

“After thorough analyses of rainfall data from our observatories nationwide for June and July, we wish to provide the following information and advisories to the public, especially those in the affected areas that , the soil moisture has either reached saturation, or near saturation levels due to cumulative high intensity rainfall in some parts of the country in June and July.

“ The affected States include; Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Kaduna, Kwara, Nasarawa, Yobe and Zamfara. This means that floods should be expected in these areas because the soil is no longer able to absorb more rainwater in the coming weeks which coincide with the peak rainy season.

“It will be recalled that in the 2016 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP), NiMet stated that, while many parts of the country will experience lower than-normal total rainfall due to the effect of El Nino, flooding could still be experienced in such areas; particularly those that are naturally prone to flooding. The SRP identified parts of the Northwest, Southwest and low-lying areas, as particularly vulnerable to flooding during 2016 rainy season.

“These observations and projections are also in agreement with the 2016 Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) that was released by the Nigerian Hydro-logical Services Agency (NIHSA).
“Governments, communities and individuals in these vulnerable parts of the country are advised to take proactive actions, such as clearing water channels and drainages, and also avoid activities that block the free flow of flood waters. Closer attention should also be paid to NiMet’s daily weather forecasts and alerts. It is further advised that relevant Agencies should perfect their emergency evacuation plans and activate them as soon as necessary.

Meanwhile NiMet will continue to monitor the rainfall pattern as well as general weather conditions across the country and issue updates from time to time.

“The Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NiMet, in exercise of its mandate to monitor the weather and climate of the country at all times, and working in collaboration with the Nigerian Hydrological Services Agency has been monitoring rainfall events across the country, the statement added.

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