Residents of at least seven communities in Jalingo Local Government Area of Taraba State have been counting their losses since floods on Sunday devastated their communities.
Some of the worst hit areas are Mayo Gwoi, Abuja Phase 2, Nukkai, Barade and part of Abuja Phase 1.
Apart from washing away many homes and rendering many homeless, the floods also washed away farm crops and livestock.
Residents who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES blamed the disaster on a poor drainage system in many parts of the state capital, caused by uncontrolled physical development.
Many of the victims who are yet to relocate despite signs of more rains said they need government support to get new homes.
Though no life was lost in the disaster, Dauda Sani, a community leader in Abuja Phase 2, said the flood destroyed many houses in his area.
Another victim who gave her name as Aunty Tobi said she lost valuables such as books, personal documents, animals and foodstuff.
A widow and mother of five who gave her name as Sarah said she sent her children to relatives and friends in different places after her house was submerged on Sunday.
“I need to relocate from this area too but I have no money to do so,” she told Premium Times on Tuesday
Bala Sani of Barade community said he could not remove anything from his house after the flood struck .
“When we saw the rising water coming like a strong wave, we all ran away leaving our property. I thank God that I did not lose any of my family members.”
‘We lost many things’
Philip Garba, who spoke on behalf of the head of Abuja Phase 2, Thomas Umar, said over 100 houses were destroyed in the community.
“We lost so many things. We need help and assistance from government and good Samaritans for us to be able to return to normal life.”
He said people living in homes close to the river banks in the community were willing to relocate but need assistance to do so.
Government intervenes but…
Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku was in Abuja on Sunday when the disaster occurred.
He flew into the state later the same evening and visited some of the flood-ravaged areas to assess the damages and sympathise with residents. Mr Ishaku said the state government would immediately provide food and other relief materials.
The governor accused the federal government of abandoning the state to its fate in and failing to assist with relief materials for the flood victims.
He said the state government would provide relief materials to the affected areas to help cushion their pains.
Mr Ishaku said though he learnt that officials of the federal Ministry of Humanitarian Services and Disaster Management “claimed to be in the state the previous week”, he was yet to ascertain the claim.
“This assistance from the federal government does not get to us. We get assistance from certain proxies but not from the government,” he said but provided no details.
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The governor also urged those residing in riverine areas to vacate the areas.
Mr Ishaku said the state government would send engineers to assess the damage caused to roads and bridges in the areas with a view to carrying out urgent repairs.
Premium Times contacted the humanitarian services ministry and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on the governor’s claim but got no response.
A special assistant to the minister, Halima Oyelade, when reached by the reporter on the telephone promised to get back after getting details from the department concerned but refused to pick several calls afterwards.
But the permanent secretary of the state ministry of special duties and humanitarian services, Usman Madu, said “NEMA had reached out to the ministry” and promised to deliver relief materials.
Mr Madu disclosed this on Tuesday while presenting the “first batch” of relief intervention to the victims of the disaster at the Jalingo local government secretariat.
He said the food items which include rice, garri, semovita and assorted seasoning were from the state government.
He said NEMA had promised to intervene through the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) but he could not comment on the matter until the items are received.
“I cannot comment on what we are yet to receive but we were informed that NEMA is bringing some relief materials to the state, which we are waiting to receive.
“The details of the affected persons have been taken for necessary action. Those who own houses and other properties, we will see how we can give them succour. Cooperate with government officials on ground to carry out the task,” he said.
While commending Governor Darius for the prompt response to the situation, the chairman of Jalingo LGA, Nasiru Boboji, said the council would work with the leaders of the affected communities to ensure that all victims benefited from the relief items.
He said he had earlier visited the affected areas with the member representing Jalingo 1 constituency in the state House of Assembly, Yahuza Abubakar, who was also at the distribution venue.
Speaking during the distribution, Mr Abubakar said, “the governor has promised to assist you more after this immediate intervention. We are providing food items to enable you eat before we get other forms of assistance”.