Nigeria

Ilorin’s weekend of woe: How rainstorm left trail of death, devastation

Following last weekend’s rainstorm in various parts of Kwara State, many residents are yet to recover from the ensuing devastation and deaths. BIOLA AZEEZ reports the losses and steps being taken to address the destruction.

For residents of Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, the memory of the last few days would linger unpleasantly for a long time. The rainstorm which lasted severally hours not only ruined properties, it also caused watery death for some. The living are mourning their dead while nature has not promised a reprieve in the nearest future.

The warning by NiMET

In January, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency announced its 2020 Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) report with the intention of providing guide for various sectors of the country.

The agency predicted in the SRP Report that the onset of the growing season is expected to be near-normal to earlier than normal in most parts of the country.

It forecast earliest onset date likely to occur on February 24 around coastal zone of South-South states while Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe and Borno, are likely to have their onset from June 2.

“On cessation, a ‘normal to later than normal’ cessation is expected across the country.

“The earliest cessation date of around Sept.26 is expected around Katsina and Northern parts of Sokoto while the latest cessation is expected on the Dec.28 over the Niger-Delta region.

“On length of growing season, a `normal to longer than normal length of season’ is generally predicted across the country.

“In the year 2020, the length of growing season is expected to span for 110 to 160 days in the Sahelian region of the North and for 210 to 280 days in the South,” it said.

According NiMet, “a normal to above normal” rainfall is expected generally in the country.

The agency envisaged total rainfall amounts to be 400mm in the North and about 3000mm in the South.

It further predicted rainfall events that could be enormous and tend to give a false start of the season before full establishment of the onset of planting season over various ecological zones.

“Such rainfall events are not uncommon, however, their frequency seems to be on the rise.

“Some forcing functions have been observed to be likely responsible and will be monitored carefully and keep Nigerians informed. Farmers should therefore avoid early planting during this period to avoid losses, “it said.

NiMet further forecast a severe dry spell that might last up to 10 to 21 days in the following states: Niger, Bauchi, Jigawa, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Yobe and Borno in the months of June and July.

According to the agency, such dry spell may last between 2 to 3 weeks after the onset.

NiMet urged farmers to adopt soil-moisture conservation techniques to avoid crop losses during the period.

“On flash floods, the normal to near normal rainfall pattern in the country does not rule out the possibility of isolated flash floods due to increasing high intensity rainfall at the peak of the season, especially in areas that are naturally prone to flooding,” the agency added.

A weekend of ruin

The torrential rain, which started at about 7:00 pm on Saturday, September 19, 2020, lasted till the early hours of Sunday, intermittently falling, and later flooding and wreaking havoc in many communities in the state. And at least, three persons reportedly lost their lives to the rainstorm.

Nigerian Tribune gathered from a source in the state Fire Service that one life was lost during the heavy rains, adding that two persons whose corpses are yet to be recovered were equally swept away at Taiwo Isale and Oko-Erin bridges in the metropolis.

It was also gathered that many victims of the rainstorm were rendered homeless, while others suffered several losses.

“We worked all through the night in rising up to the occasion. Up till now, we have not found the two persons that were carried away at both Taiwo Isale and Oko-Erin bridges. The rainstorm also led to the death of one person at Ita Ogunbo area of inner Ilorin,” the source said.

It was gathered that areas worst affected by the rainstorm included Olokonla, Bobonkiri, Egba-Akota, Aberi, Akuji, Idiope, and others all in Ita-Ogunbo area, Alanamu ward of Ilorin West Local Government Area of the state.

The cloudburst also destroyed electricity poles in Taiwo, Okekere, Okoloke and Odota areas, all in the metropolis.

Also, a mast, belonging to one of the telecommunication companies (Multilinks) fell from a far distance on residential buildings at a family house, located at No.7 Kamaldeeen Street, Omoda in Ilorin.

rainstorm‘Many people were trapped for several hours’

A resident of the community, Usman Badejoko, who advised against allowing the erection of telecommunication masts in residential areas, described the act as “deadly risky.”

“People were trapped under buildings for several hours and were later rescued with the grace of Almighty Allah,” he said.

Also speaking on the disaster, the national president of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU), Alhaji Aliyu Uthman, appealed to both the federal and the Kwara state government as well as other good-spirited individuals and organisations to come to the aid of those who lost houses and other valuables to the rainstorm, which happened across the city of Ilorin.

Uthman, in a statement, described the event as terrible and extremely devastating.

He explained that the incident, which claimed some lives, also left hundreds of people, whose economic capacity has already been attenuated by the effects of the perilous coronavirus pandemic, hopeless and visibly restless as regards the next line of action.

Uthman, who said that his tour round the city of Ilorin following the incident, left him perplexed and disturbed considering the magnitude of the losses he assessed. He added that he saw nothing but despair and hopelessness on the faces of helpless victims everywhere he went.  He explained that the damages he saw were extremely disturbing, noting that restoring the situation to normalcy would require huge sums of money, which most of the victims could not afford readily.

The community leader also urged well-meaning individuals to assist the victims with temporal shelters, food and other essential needs to survive the unanticipated situation that they have found themselves.

The IEDPU president condoled with the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, and the good people of the emirate over the incident. He also sympathised with the victims of the disaster as he urged them to take heart, praying that Allah grant all the constituted authorities and other stakeholders the wherewithal to put smiles on the faces of victims.

Also speaking with journalists during an assessment visit to the areas affected by the rainstorm, the state deputy governor, Mr. Kayode Alabi, commiserated with the families of those who died in the downpour.

The deputy governor sympathised with the bereaved families and expressed concern over fatalities and destruction caused by the downpour.

“It is with a heavy heart that I commiserate with the families of the bereaved. I pray God to bless the departed souls. I equally identify with those that have been displaced as a result of the rainstorm,” he said.

The deputy governor enjoined the victims to be calm and exercise patience with the government, saying efforts will not be spared to give the necessary support.

“Be rest assured that Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq will be properly briefed on the destruction which I find quite disturbing. The government will waste no time in giving necessary support to the affected victims,” he said.

Some of the areas visited were Ode Alfa Nda, Ile Akuji, Ile Bada, Ita Ogunbo, Ita Kudimoh, Ita Egba, Idi Igba, and Sakele. Others are Okekere, Popo Igbona, Abata Sunkere, Oju Ekun, Orisan Koko.

Some of the victims, who spoke on the sideline of the deputy governor’s visit, solicited urgent government assistance to rebuild their affected properties.

Mr Alabi visited the affected areas with Alhaji Jimada, Secretary to the Kwara State Emergency Management Agency, Mrs. Motunrayo Adaran and other government officials on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq has commiserated with families whose dwellings were affected in Saturday night’s rainstorm in different parts of the state.

In a statement, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Abdulrazaq, Rafiu Ajakaye, said: “The governor is saddened by the havoc wreaked on various households in Ilorin, the state capital, and indeed elsewhere across the state by the rainstorm. He sends his heartfelt commiseration and a message of hope to such families in this trying time.

“As part of his proactive measures to mitigate the effect of this natural disaster which had been predicted by NiMET, the governor had last week visited various Federal Government agencies including NEMA to seek special relief for Kwara. The state government is again urging the Federal Government to urgently consider Kwara State for special support.

“The governor, for his part, is immediately setting up a special disaster response team to collate data of areas affected and determine how the state government can offer support based on available resources. That response team will be announced shortly.

“The governor is also aware of the damage to electric poles during the storm. He has directed relevant agencies to quickly fix the poles as soon as possible to avoid further damage and ensure the restoration of power services.”

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