By ODOGWU OBINNA
No fewer than 45 houses were destroyed and 126 persons displaced in a natural disaster that hit Umuife village in Urum Community located in Awka-North Local Government Area of Anambra State. Many houses, businesses, government facilities, PHCN poles and cables, economic trees and so many others were destroyed in the torrential storm that swept through the community. It was gathered that some persons sustained various degrees of injury during the natural disaster.
When this reporter visited the scene, many people, mostly women were seen wailing at the top of their voices, crying for help. When contacted, a community leader and Financial Secretary, Umuife Progressive Union, Mr Obiesili Amaechi Cosmas, lamented that their houses, farms and economic trees were swept away, leaving them hopeless. He added that the community has never witnessed such calamity since history.
His words: “I have never witnessed this kind of thing ever since I was born or heard it ever happened. As you can see for yourself, this disaster swept through the entire village. Many houses, business centers, PHCN facilities, farms were destroyed. Many people were rendered homeless. Can’t you see people crying for help? My own house was adversely affected.”
He said his team has begun contacting relevant bodies and agencies to that effect. “As for now, we have begun making contacts with the relevant bodies and agencies to come to our rescue as this is beyond community capacity to handle. We have just contacted the State Emergency Management Agency; our representative in the State House of Assembly, Hon. Rebecca Udorji; Caretaker Committee Chairperson for Awka-North, Mrs Joy Eweluzo, and others. We just hope they will come to our rescue soonest” he said.
Another community leader, Mr Chika Nath Arinze, said it baffles him so much owing to the level of destruction recorded in the calamity, even as he called on the government and other good spirited individuals to come to their aid. He said: “The fact is that from what we saw on ground, it’s a disaster of high magnitude. Our economic activities have by this, crippled; many people rendered homeless. It has never happened before and it honestly needs urgent attention. As I’m talking to you now, the affected people have no place to lay down their heads tonight.” “We are honestly looking forward to hearing from the government and FEMA.”
One of the victims, Mrs Blessing Anaekwe, lamented amidst tears that she nearly lost her only child to the storm. Her house was totally destroyed by the storm. While explaining her ordeal,she said: “ What happened to me was disastrous. It nearly killed my only child. The thing began as a light rain shower, then the storm. We thought we are the only victim until we started hearing people wailing to the top of their voices. We are calling on the government to come to our rescue as we are now homeless and hopeless.”
Another victim, Mr Michael Ozokwu said: “How it happened in my house is that we were preparing to set out for the day when it loomed as if it were about to pour down. Suddenly it was windy and the next thing was that it began pulling houses and fences. There is a business centre in front of my house which it first pulled up and threw it on top of my house, then pulled my own also. It is just strange and mysterious to me. And I sincerely seek help from both government and people.”
When contacted, the Chairman of State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Nwabufo Ijezie said: “Well I just got the information and the pictures of the disaster. We will do an assessment and see what has happened. If it is beyond what the capability of what the state can respond or handle, we seek external support.”
He however said that there is no relief materials on ground for the victims but something swift would be done to support them.
He said: “There are no relief materials for now because we have not done the assessment to ascertain the level of disaster in the area.”