By Peter Ikegbunam
Three farmers in Anaku, Ayamelum local government area of the Anambra state have lost their lives after heavy flooding ravaged communities in Riverine areas of Anambra North.
Tragedy struck on Thursday, September 7, when one of the deceased Obiorah Emeka had gone to check his fish trap which, it was later gathered, had made serious catch with fish overflowing the trap due to the flooding. He did not know that the current of the flooding was high and dangerous. As he approached the trap with his boat he got swept away by the violent current of the heavy flooding and disappeared without any trace. His corpse which had begun to swell was sported floating on the flooded farms the next day.
At about the same time Obiorah had fallen victim to the flood, another middle-aged man, Anthony Ikegbunam Nwakaeze had gone to rescue the remaining yam tubers in his farm which had been overwhelmed by heavy flooding. He had uprooted the yams earlier while the flooding was building up, in order not to leave them to rot in the water-logged ground. He took some to safety and as he returned to carry the remaining tubers, he did not know that the flooding had increased in current and mass. He got swept away in the flooded farm and also disappeared without a trace. His corpse was also seen afloat the flooded farm the next day after fruitless rescue operation.
A third man, an elderly farmer, Oranyelu Egwuatu Nwato, had died of High Blood Pressure in his home after he realized he witnessed his farmland flooded by water with all the crops in it.
These tragic incidents have thrown the entire Anaku community into mourning, prompting them to intensify their call on the State government to come to their rescue over the incidents of flooding affecting their communities.
In an interview with massmediang, the traditional ruler of Anaku town HRH, Igwe Peter Obalum Oforkansi, said that Anaku was surrounded by territorial waters such as Ezu and Omabala rivers.
According to him, the two rivers made their ways into the town when the banks got full.
While expressing the loss in the flood, the monarch appealed to the state government to provide the town and Umerum with flying boats, adding that if flying boats were available it would help the community to secure the cash and food crops of the flood victims and that would have saved the lives of the diseased victims.
The Director of Project Ayamelum Network (PAN), Mr. John Udemezue, in an interview, said that all the deceased were from Ikenga Anaku.
According to Mr. Udemezue, two of the victims died in the cause of struggling to rescue some of their food and cash crops as the flood quickly submerged their farm lands while one died as a result of High Blood Pressure which attacked the diseased following the flooding of his farmland.
While reacting to the flooding disaster, the President General of Igbakwu town, Mr Mike Chike said that Igbakwu has lost many cash and food crops to the environmental problem. The president general equally stated that his farmland was also flooded and his farm produce all gone.
Meanwhile the farmers in the community have implored government at all levels and donor agencies to come to their rescue as they had lost the entire year’s effort due to flooded farms.
In his words, Anthony Umeadi, a farmer in Anaku said; “what we want is for the government and all other donor agencies as a matter of urgency, come to our rescue as this situation will leave us completely hungry for the year.”
In their respective views, farmers met in the farm as they struggle to evacuate their food and cash crops from the affected areas lamented over the loss which they described as being highly remarkable in their lives. In his words, Mr Bennard Nnechi from Umuali Akanator Omor stated that their major challenge in that the area was that when things like this happened, the government will bring some relief materials but those to whom such materials are entrusted end up siphoning the materials. He however urged the government and all donor agencies to please ensure that the relief materials that may be sent are carefully directed to trusted people who can deliver them properly to the affected flood victims.
While responding to the reason why they fall victim of the flood in spite of efforts made by the government through the media to ensure that the people do not cultivate their crops in flood prone areas, the traditional prime minister of Igbakwu, Chief Ngoesina Okonkwo who spoke to our correspondent on behalf of his traditional ruler HRH Igwe Prof. Onuorah Nwuneli said that the announcement came late when most of the food and cash crops had been cultivated. The prime minister further stated that the farmers ignored the announcement equally because previous announcements about the flood such as the ones done in 2013, 2014 and 2015 did not come again and this made forecast somehow unrealistic to some farmers.