“Thank God no life was lost!”
There are six structures in Moses’ compound – about 5km into Welfare Quarters, well known as a sodden area in Makurdi. Two of the buildings belong to his younger brother, who wasn’t around when the houses got flooded.
“Thank God no life was lost”, Moses, a businessman who speaks French fluently, prefaced the story he was about to tell.
The rain, he said, began at about 2 am on the morning of August 26 but it didn’t stop him and his family from enjoying their sleep. That was until around 3 am, when he found himself awake in the middle of a pool, watching in horror as some of his properties floated. Naturally, he feared for the safety of his family, including Godwin, his eldest son who lived in a detached flat inside the compound.
As they struggled to retrieve all things that appeared redeemable from the pool in which their entire lives now either lay sunken or afloat, it hit Moses that the attempt was futile. He could hear the occupiers of the other buildings in the compound calling everyone out to safety and by the time he and his family manoeuvred their way out, he’d banished any thoughts about redeemable property.
The singular concern was to make a channel for the 3.5 feet pool of water, in which they all waded, to flow.
It was well past 5am before anyone could make it through.
The aftermath of the flood was not only visible inside the compound, where Moses and I weaved our way through the remaining evidence of a lifetime of acquisitions that lay destroyed here and there. The two buildings at the entrance of the main house had both collapsed. And as Moses led me around the compound, I noticed a path – the channel they created to let the water through.
On the other side of the road from the compound, was a rice plantation that had served as their muster point that night.
Residents of Makurdi have been most supportive, Moses admits. He also knows of the efforts of NGOs, philanthropists, Churches, the Federal Government as well as well-meaning individuals who have been sending in all sorts of relief materials, consumables and first aid items.
“However, those of us who prefer to try and salvage our residences have got barely little or nothing because it is generally believed that those in the IDP camps are the most distressed.”
For Moses, the relief materials should not only be consumable items and clothes, he really wishes there’ll be building materials such as cements, bricks, roof sheets and a token for manpower to rehabilitate the already devastated structures.
For how long will they accommodate people on these camps?
Moses doesn’t think the aids trickling into Benue are the right kind.
“Many of us are still employed. We have our initial sources of livelihood. I deal in the buying and selling of grains, guinea-corn, corn, millets and other seedlings. I lost five bags of corn the night of the flood which cost 10,000 naira each.”
“To get the same worth of corn now is 16,000. Some of us are subsistent farmers and many of our small farms have been washed away with the flood. Non-IDP campers have only got the help that they have through the deliberate efforts of NGOs and philanthropists who have sought them out by choice.”
“No one is even talking about rebuilding our homes yet.”
Read our introduction to this 5-part series here.
Read the next instalment in the series here.