Flood victims in Bayelsa State have continued to cry to the state and federal government, even as there seem to be no hope of succor for them since they were sacked from their homes. The flood did not spare even police stations, churches and schools.
Some of the victims who spoke in an interview during a survey by some journalists and environmentalists under the Environmental Rights Action, ERA, lamented that they have got no help and that their plea for assistance had continued to fall on deaf ears.
At the Akudonu community in Biseni clan, Ogiama Mark Solomon said, “the current flood is really threatening us. This was how it started in 2012 and it gradually increased until almost all the buildings in Biseni got submerged. Apart from the flood you are observing in the community now, our farms are all submerged.
“I went to my farm yesterday and was surprised to see the plantain and cassava farm taken over by the flood. So I worked till 6:30 in the evening; forced on the spur of the moment by what I saw to begin harvesting immediately. And, owing to the distance between the community and the farm; to get the harvested crops home was another great challenge.
“So, our community and entire Biseni clan, comprising eleven communities are facing very tough challenges from this current flood. We need the federal and state government to render assistance, including Non-Governmental Organisations. We need help.
“We experience flood annually and if the government can help in sand- filling certain sections of our environment, especially from the bush and shoreline of the Taylor Creek; it will go a long way to reduce the flood and impact subsequently. Besides that, we also need relief materials''.
Chief Ismael Osakwe whose compound was flooded and who also has a fish farm opposite his compound had this to say: 'I am from this community, Egbebiri and this is my compound. As you saw me coming out from the house to meet you, you could see I held a stick to support me, otherwise I fall.
“If not for the effort of one of my sons in improvising a platform to walk across the water, I wouldn't have been able to come out from the house. This is a temporary bridge to enable us walk within the premises.
“The flood has brought our people so much inconveniences. Talk about the crops; in fact all these days women have not been resting; day and night. They have been hurriedly harvesting cassava from their farms here and there and going about processing them.
The Paramount ruler of Akudonu community, Chief Jena Nduka expressed the feeling and concerns of his people. He said “We are tired of flood. Right now there is so much suffering, people are crying and children cannot even go to school under this condition.
“Women are making frantic efforts to harvest their cassava as farms and farmlands are submerged. And as they are harvesting and processing, some people are frying garri and cooking outside, some no longer have kitchen to cook even, as their kitchen are flooded. Like 2012, hardship has come''
When asked if this was a yearly experience, the royal father said “we experience flood every year, but not the same level of flood every year. Every year, there must be flood. And, this year's flood is one of the highest and worse since 2012; because a lot of people went into farming owing to hunger and unexpectedly this flood has come to destroy the farms and caused forced harvesting of crops.
“After the great flood of 2012 and the destruction that flood wrought and related hunger, coupled with the current state of the nation, most of our people decided to invest in farming. Last year, people saw that the flood level was low and so, it encouraged expansion of farms and planting of more crops with a view to bridging their need gaps. Unfortunately, this year's flood has disappointed such persons. You can see over there [pointing], people are preparing a new canoe to go and harvest cassava''
Another victim, a 70 year old woman corroborated what others said about the current flood in Egbebiri. “Both my farms and living home are affected by the flood. We have harvested some cassava and are frying garri currently. I walk through water into my room these days. The room is also flooded so when I get to the bed, I just climb and sleep; in the flooded room as there is no option for now. And the water level increases daily.” Head Chief of Egbebiri communities, comprising Egbebiri 1, Egbebiri 2 and Akudonu [all of Biseni clan], Chief Oyowah Charles confirmed the flood and what the people are going through: “The flood is still on-going in our environment; it has not stopped. We don't know the extent it is going to reach. The fact is that some of our houses have been submerged with water, as you have seen.
“And, we don't know how many houses would be affected at the end of the day and whether this year's flood will exceed that of 2012. There is a lot of suffering, most of our farms are being taken over by water. So, we are suffering greatly.
“People should have concern for us. That of 2012 too, we suffered a lot. And government officials visited us but at the end, we saw nothing. In the past we saw NGOs coming and going too, but we don't see any benefit. At least, people [victims] should be supported.”