AHOADA—TWO villagers who hurried to their farms in Rivers State to harvest cassava due to the threatening flood have regrettably been drowned by flood, while an outbreak of skin diseases has been reported in some of the over 70 communities affected by flood in the state. Chairman of Ahoada West Local Government Area, AWELGA, Mr Hope Ikiriko, said: “The report I got is that two people have drowned in the flood. The report has it that the people went to harvest their premature cassava when flood caught up with them and they could not be rescued.” Paramount ruler of Okparaki community, one of flood-ravaged communities, Chief Paul George, and displaced residents, decried the outbreak of skin diseases in a chat with NDV. Submerged area in AWELGA, Rivers The affected communities are in Ahoada West, Ahoada East, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni and Abua/Odua Local Government Areas of the state. Flood didn’t allow me harvest my crops —Rebecca NDV visited some of the affected communities, including Okarki, Okparaki, Ikeodi, Kumusha Ugovia, Udoda, Ogbogolo clan, Oruoma, Mbiama and Akinima, JK 1, 2, 3 and 4, where we saw farmers shuttling their farms to harvest premature crops. Rebecca Godfrey, who was returning from her farm, said: “All my crops, plantain, cassava have all been covered with water. I really need help to take care of my family.” “I was trying to harvest some of my crops by the force, but the surging water did not allow me. I am calling for help from the federal government and the state government.” Residents go to farm with canoes to salvage crops —Mercy Another resident, Mercy Williams, said: “The problem is that the water level is too much. What we experienced last time is better than what is happening now. We are using canoe to go to our farm to see if we can save some of our crops because we are hungry.” “We are harvesting our crops seriously. Some people used only three days to finish the whole of their farm. They even invited their relations to join them to harvest their farms. “Everything we planted, yam, potatoes, cassava, have all been covered by water. After this flood we will face hunger,” she asserted. We sell harvested produce at give-away prices —Sweza Mark Sweza, whom NDV met in his farm harvesting cassava with his wife and two children, said: “This flooding is recurrent. It is painful that we found ourselves in this kind of area where we experience flood every year. Anytime we plant, in this season we suffer a lot and after this season, we find it difficult to survive because our efforts throughout the period have been destroyed. “In my farm, cassava, plantain, okro and other crops have all been damaged. Right now all the crops in the market have dropped prices. “We now sell below what we have spent in cultivating the farms. Before we sell a set of cassava for N2000, but now we sell same for N400. We are even looking for people to buy them. They are not even available to buy, if we see any, we sell at cheap price. “This is because of the panic harvesting. Some of the crops are even premature but we have to harvest them instead of them to be totally destroyed by the flood.” LG overwhelmed, FG should intervene —Chairman Chairman of AWELGA, who visited some of the affected communities to donate relief material, lamented that the area has been abandoned by the Federal Government. He called on the federal government to declare emergency on the flood situation in AWELGA, adding that the council had lost count of the number of displaced persons in the saga. “We are in the midst of the flood. We are living in fear because the number of communities packing is increasing every day. “The case we have at hand now is that the local government cannot handle it. No local government area can handle this level of disaster. The federal government has not done anything in respect of this. It is not good enough to only go on air and announce that flood will come,” he added. He called on the FG through the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA to intervene in the disaster and provide help to the affected people. We are under water – Monarch Okpariki monarch, who received some relief materials from the council boss, said: “We are happy over this gift from the chairman of our local government. We are already in hunger and this will go a long way to help us.” “The whole community has been covered with water. Everybody has packed out and people cannot go to school again. Over 20 families live in one upstairs while many have left the community. Yes, many people are now having boil and other skin diseases. The water is really affecting us,” he asserted.
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