Mr Vincent Owen, Director of Planning, Research and Forecasting of NEMA, Abuja, made the urgent call when he visited a flood prone area in Enugwu-Otu in Anambra East Local Government Area (LGA) on Thursday.
“There is nothing to wait for in evacuation of the people living in the flood prone areas in Anambra, the indices seen in 2012 flood has manifested in all the areas NEMA visited.
“In Ogbaru LGA, all the towns have been washed with flood, in Enugwu-Otu and Nkpundo Otu, the story is not different,” he said.
The director warned that the forecast of the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) that 2018 flood might come in same magnitude of 2012 should not be treated with kid’s glove.
According to him, the update regarding the flood is so alarming and should not be treated lightly as all the indices during the 2012 flood has been seen and the speed at which the river is rising needs proactive actions.
“The Anambra government should as a matter of urgency begin immediate evacuation of people living in the flood prone areas to the emergency shelter centres in the state,” he said.
Owen said that NEMA under Mr Mustapha Maihaja, the Director-General of NEMA was committed in providing relief materials to all states either in flood or other emergency issues in the country.
He urged all the 12 states that were in flood prone areas not to play with the forecast and assured them of the agency’s speedy assistance whenever the need arose.
Owen said that the Federal Government had received a message from the Cameroon Government of its intentions to open its dams and asked for proactive measures by the affected states.
He said that if the forecast was not timely adhered to by the 12 states, it would be worse than 2012 flood experience and “NEMA do not pray for it”.
Owen said that NEMA was visiting the states that were flood prone to have a firsthand information on the preparedness of the states in moving the victims to higher grounds and providing decent camps for the affected communities.
Owen said that the volume of water noticed in Ogbaru and Enuwgu Otu was alarming and portended disaster if not proactively managed.
He said that NEMA was in the state to ascertain the level of preparedness of the government in response to the flood warning signals as issued by NIHSA and urged the government not to delay action .
Mr Cprian Agupugo, Anambra Executive Director of SEMA, said that the state government had since embarked on sensitization and enlightenment campaigns on needful actions to be taken by the people.
Agupugo said that the state had made ready 28 emergency shelter centres in the flood prone areas of the state and assured the agency that other necessary materials would be provided.
“Now that it is evident that the flood is rising, the displaced persons will be evacuated and taken to centers closest to them in no distant time,” he said.
He said that state government was committed towards safeguarding the lives of its citizens and would run to the NEMA before they exhaust the relief materials in their storage.
Agupugo commended NEMA for reiterating the warning and reassuring SEMA on its willingness to play its part to ensure that nothing hinders the success of evacuation and safe keeping of the people living in the flood prone areas.
Mr Sunday Ochie a native of Enuguw- Otu said that the flood which started around July had increased beyond their expectation this September and had destroyed their farmland.
Ochie said that they were monitoring the rise and was still farming trusting that it was not going to be heavy but it had played out negatively and urged state government to give quick assistance.
Mrs Grace Oneh, a health worker at the Christ the King Maternity in the community, said that the flood had covered the homes of many people adding that most of the victims had gone upland to stay with their relatives.
Oneh said that she was watching to see if the flood would recede if not, she would leave to upland where centers had been provided by the state government.
She said that relief material should be distributed on time before it got too rowdy and the distribution should be monitored.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NEMA team comprised members of the Red Cross Society and Fire Service.
Mr Ebuka Chukwubike , a senior officer of the state Fire Service said that the partner with SEMA to ensure that the achieve excellence in serving humanity.