The ravaging flood that inflicted so much pain and untold hardship on many Nigerians has receded but definitely not without the unforgettable and indelible scars it has left in the minds of so many families.
It is general knowledge now that the flood swept away the belongings of the victims, and the trauma associated with the losses and having to abandon their homes for makeshift accommodation was even worse.
While the flood lasted, the victims had to contend with certain inadequacies and prayed for an end to the ravaging flood, which has been described in many quarters as worse than that of 2012.
Though Delta State government appeared to have managed the flood better than most affected Niger Delta states, there were still lapses as some internally displaced persons were not lucky to benefit from the government patronage.
In Delta State, four camps were set up by Delta State Oil Producing Development Commission (DESOPADEC) and eight were set up by the state government.
There were about 21,000 IDPs in those eight camps and over 17000 in areas where DESOPADEC set up their own IDPs camps,” he said.
Secretary to the State Government and chairman of the Inter-ministerial Flood Management Committee, Chief Patrick Ukah, who made this known to journalists, stated, “Now that the water has started receding and we have started planning their exit, by the grace of God, we will do whatever it takes to assist them to get back to normal life irrespective of whatever they must have lost to the flood.”
Besides those camps set up by the state government and DESOPADEC, there were other camps set up by organizations such as Julius Berger at Oko community in Oshimili South Local Government Area.
After the camps were closed down, National Point visited the Oko-Amakom Community to see how the returnees from the camps were faring, trying to settle down to their normal lives.
The people of Oko-Amakon community are predominantly farmers and it will not amount to exaggeration if one says about 95 percent of these people are farmers.
Before the flood, the people cultivated yam, potatoes, cassava, rice, vegetables, pepper among others.
The general outlook of the community was forlorn and it was very obvious that there was severe hunger in the community. Those who spoke to National Point were all in agreement that there was no government attention since the flood ravaged their community.
They complained bitterly about the biting hunger in their community, explaining that they would want to go back to their farming. They appealed to the government and public spirited individuals to come to their aid.
Chief Nwanze Obiora is a farmer who cultivates yam and cassava in the community. He recalled with sadness how the flood destroyed everything they had laboured for including their properties and farms.
“The only thing we have is our lives. When the flood came, our community people ran to Julius Berger yard. In this Berger yard, government did not do anything meaningful for us.”
He noted that people that went to camps in Asaba were well taken care of, adding that the people were also given some money when they were leaving the camps.
“Our community people did not feel any impact of the government in anyway. We are struggling to start farming all over and we are begging the government to come to our aid. Some of us have lost our houses to the flood and we also need food. The government should please help us”.
Madam Happiness Nwakolobi is also a farmer who cultivates cassava and potatoes.
She remarked that the community lost everything including roads to the flood.
“We are starving in this community. Some people from Asaba and Ashaka Iselegwu have been coming to assist us with food.
“We ran to Berger camp during the flood and apart from individual support, we didn’t see support from the government. Even while people in other camps were given some money when the camps were closed, there was nothing like that here,” she added.
Madam Nwaololobi expressed her readiness to go back to farming but noted that it is difficult because there is nothing with which to start. She called on the state government to come to their rescue.
Another, Mrs Theressa Obiora lamented the loss of her farm to the flood. According to her, she cultivates cassava, yam and potatoes and she lost all to the flood.
She, too would have loved to start afresh but there is no way as she does not have the wherewithal to start.
She expressed sadness that the state government did not show any concern over their plight while they were in the Julius Berger camp and after leaving camp.
She appealed to Governor Okowa and well-meaning people to come to their aid so that they can go back to farming.
Mrs Apollonia Oputah in her own narration, said she had nothing left as she lost all her belongings to the flood. She revealed that she and other people in the community had not received any form of support from the government to start their lives after the flood.
According to her, little help has been rendered by public spirited individuals who have helped with foodstuffs, cassava stems and some money.
In her words, “We are calling on the government to help us get out of this famine because when our farms were there, we could run to our farms and harvest cassava and make foo foo from it. We can get vegetables and other things from our farms and make soup but this is no longer possible because everything was destroyed in the flood.”
She, however, advised her colleagues to keep hope alive believing that things would get better.
Mrs Nkiru Edoja on her part, lamented that life had been very difficult for her and others in the community after the flood, noting that to feed had been very difficult.
“I was into mixed farming and cultivated cassava, yam, potatoes, vegetables among others. But as it stands now, it is very difficult to go back to farming because I need cassava stems, yam seedlings, okro seed and things like that.
“We are calling on the state government and well-meaning people to come to our aid. We need money also because we have to pay labourers who help us prepare the ground for farming.”
Mrs Florence Nwadialu expressed thanks to God that she is still alive after the flood because some people did not make it. She agreed that life had been difficult because, according to her, they find it difficult to feed once a day now.
She expressed her desire to go back to farming, adding that as a riverine community, they have their farming season which is now. She lamented that there is no fund and therefore appealed to the government to help them start farming again by providing funds and other assistance.
She revealed that those people from neighbouring communities government assisted with funds have already started farming.
At the community during the National Point visit were officials of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture And Rural Development (Project Coordinating Unit).
Leader of the team, Mr Abayomi Aina, said the team was in Oko-Amakom toconduct flood impact assessment in the area.
He noted that the community had lost so much including their roads to the flood and revealed that there is a plan to mitigate the effect of the flood on the farmers and their farms.
“The true concept of our assessment is looking at the food security aspect and the livelihood aspect. We know the community people are largely farmers. We have taken stock of the damages done to the farms. We have also taken stock of the damages done to the infrastructure and the people’s livelihood by the flood.”
Mr Abayomi said they would quantify the assessment and put value to it so that when the aid comes, priority would be given to the communities according to the impact of the flood.
He revealed that eight Local Government Areas of Delta state were selected for this and two communities from each Local Government Area would be assess