Europe Reels From Worst Floods In Years As Death Toll Nears 130

A picture taken on July 15, 2021, shows cars piled up by the water at a roundabout in the Belgian city of Verviers, after heavy rains and floods lashed western Europe, killing at least two people in Belgium. François WALSCHAERTS / AFP

 

 

Devastating floods have torn through entire villages and killed at least 128 people in Europe, most of them in western Germany where stunned emergency services were still combing the wreckage on Friday.

Unsuspecting residents were caught completely off guard by the torrent dubbed the “flood of death” by German newspaper Bild.

Streets and houses were submerged by water in some areas, while cars were left overturned on soaked streets after flood waters passed. Some districts were completely cut off.

“Everything was underwater within 15 minutes,” Agron Berischa, a 21-year-old decorator from Bad Neuenahr in Rhineland-Palatinate state, told AFP.

“Our flat, our office, our neighbours’ houses, everywhere was underwater.”

Europe Reels From Worst Floods In Years As Death Toll Nears 130
A man takes pictures of cars and rubble piled up in a street after the floods caused major damage in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, western Germany, on July 16, 2021.
Christof STACHE / AFP

 

 

In nearby Schuld, Hans-Dieter Vrancken, 65, said “caravans, cars were washed away, trees were uprooted, houses were knocked down”.

“We have lived here in Schuld for over 20 years and we have never experienced anything like it. It’s like a warzone,” he said.

Roger Lewentz, interior minister for Rheinland-Palatinate, told Bild the death toll was likely to rise as emergency services continued to search the affected areas over the coming days.

“When emptying cellars or pumping out cellars, we keep coming across people who have lost their lives in these floods,” he said.

With five more dead found in the state by Friday evening, the nationwide death toll mounted to 108.

Adding to the devastation, several more people were feared dead in a landslide in the town of Erftstadt in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) triggered by the floods.

In neighbouring Belgium, the government confirmed the death toll had jumped to 20 — earlier reports had said 23 dead — with more than 21,000 people left without electricity in one region.

Calling the floods “possibly the most catastrophic our country has ever seen,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo declared Tuesday a day of national mourning.

Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also hammered by heavy rains, inundating many areas and forcing thousands to be evacuated in the city of Maastricht.

People stand in a devastated street in an area completely destroyed by the flood in the Blessem district of Erftstadt, western Germany, on July 16, 2021. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

Fearing the worst

In Germany’s hard-hit Ahrweiler district in Rhineland-Palatinate, several houses collapsed completely, drawing comparisons to the aftermath of a tsunami.

At least 24 people were confirmed dead in Euskirchen, one of the worst-affected towns.

“I fear that we will only see the full extent of the disaster in the coming days,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said late Thursday from Washington, where she met with President Joe Biden.

“My empathy and my heart go out to all of those who in this catastrophe lost their loved ones, or who are still worrying about the fate of people still missing.”

In Ahrweiler, around 1,300 people were unaccounted for, although local authorities told Bild the high number was likely due to damaged phone networks.

Lewentz told local media that up to 60 people were believed to be missing, “and when you haven’t heard from people for such a long time… you have to fear the worst”.

Soldiers of the German armed forces Bundeswehr search for flood victims in submerged vehicles on the federal highway B265 in Erftstadt, western Germany, on July 17, 2021 (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

Billions in damage

Gerd Landsberg, head of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, said the cost of the damage was likely to run into “billions of euros”.

In Belgium, the army has been sent to four of the country’s 10 provinces to help with rescue and evacuations.

The swollen Meuse river “is going to look very dangerous for Liege”, a nearby city of 200,000 people, warned Wallonia regional president Elio Di Rupo.

In Switzerland, lakes and rivers were also swelling after heavy overnight rainfall. In Lucerne in particular, Lake Lucerne had begun to flood the city centre.

Some parts of western Europe received up to two months’ worth of rainfall in two days on soil that was already near saturation, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

But there was some improvement Friday as the water level began to fall back.

Aerial view taken on July 15, 2021 shows the flooded village of Schuld, near Adenau, western Germany. Christoph Reichwein / dpa / AFP

Climate change?

The severe storms have put climate change back at the centre of Germany’s election campaign ahead of a September 26 poll marking the end of Merkel’s 16 years in power.

Speaking in Berlin, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Germany would “only be able to curb extreme weather situations if we engage in a determined fight against climate change”.

The country “must prepare much better” in future, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said, adding that “this extreme weather is a consequence of climate change”.

Because a warmer atmosphere holds more water, climate change increases the risk and intensity of flooding from extreme rainfall.

In urban areas with poor drainage and buildings located in flood zones, the damage can be severe.

North Rhine-Westphalia premier Armin Laschet, the conservative running to succeed Merkel, called for “speeding up” global efforts to fight climate change, underlining the link between global warming and extreme weather.

AFP

UPDATED: At Least 42 Dead In Germany As Storms Ravage Europe

An Opel Astra car is covered in rubble after heavy rain and floods in Hagen, western Germany, on July 15, 2021. Heavy rains and floods lashing western Europe have killed at least 42 people in Germany and left many more missing, as rising waters led several houses to collapse.
INA FASSBENDER / AFP

 

Heavy rains and floods lashing western Europe have killed at least 42 people in Germany and left many more missing, as rising waters led several houses to collapse on Thursday.

Unusually heavy rains also inundated neighbouring Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium, where at least four people were reported dead.

Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) states were the worst hit in Germany by the deluge, which has caused rivers to burst their banks and threatens to bring down more homes.

At least 18 bodies were recovered in the region around the western town of Ahrweiler alone, a police spokesman told AFP. Local officials had earlier reported up to 70 people missing.

Farther north, the district of Euskirchen in NRW reported 15 dead.

Desperate residents sought refuge on the roofs of their homes as helicopters circled above to rescue them from the rising waters.

Pensioner Annemarie Mueller, 65, looking out at her flooded garden and garage from her balcony, said her town of Mayen had been completely unprepared for the destruction.

“Where did all this rain come from? It’s crazy,” she told AFP.

“It made such a loud noise and given how fast it came down we thought it would break the door down.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “shocked” by the devastation and thanked the “tireless volunteers and emergency service workers” at the scene.

NRW leader Armin Laschet, who is running to succeed Merkel in September elections, cancelled a party meeting in Bavaria to survey the damage in his state, Germany’s most populous.

“We will stand by the towns and people who’ve been affected,” Laschet, clad in rubber boots, told reporters in the town of Hagen.

 

 ‘Go to higher floors’

A man walks through the floods towards destroyed houses in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr, western Germany, on July 15, 2021. Heavy rains and floods lashing western Europe have killed at least 42 people in Germany and left many more missing, as rising waters led several houses to collapse. Bernd LAUTER / AFP

 

Four of the dead were in the municipality of Schuld south of Bonn where six houses were swept away by floods, a police spokesman in the city of Koblenz said.

Several other bodies were recovered from flooded cellars across the region.

The environment ministry in Rhineland-Palatinate warned it expected floodwaters on the Rhine and Moselle rivers to rise with more rainfall.

In NRW alone, 135,000 households were without power.

Emergency workers struggled to evacuate people in endangered buildings and two firemen were killed Wednesday in the line of duty in the towns of Altena and Werdohl.

Police set up a crisis hotline for reporting missing loved ones and residents were asked to send in videos and photos that could help them in the search.

Regional official Juergen Pfoehler urged people to stay home “and, if possible, go to higher floors” of their houses.

The German military deployed some 400 soldiers across the two affected states to assist in rescue efforts.

In the city of Leverkusen, a power outage triggered by the storms led to the evacuation of a hospital with 468 patients.

City authorities reported that after intensive care patients were moved to other facilities overnight, the other wards would have to be cleared in the course of the day.

 

 ‘Rarely experienced’

Aerial video grab view taken on July 15, 2021, from a video footage shows flooded properties, houses and landscapes after heavy rainfall and floods in Kesseling near Bad Neuenahr, western Germany, Ferdinand MERZBACH / NEWS5 / AFP

 

Belgium has also seen several days of heavy rain that has caused rivers in the French-speaking region of Wallonia to burst their banks. Four were reported dead.

The provinces of Liege and Namur were especially affected, with the resort town of Spa completely flooded. In the town of Chaudfontaine, daily Le Soir reported that nearly 1,800 people had to evacuate.

The country’s Infrabel rail network said it was suspending services in the southern half of the country, given the risks to travel.

The southern Dutch province of Limburg, which is bordered by Germany and Belgium, also reported widespread damage with rising waters threatening to cut off the small city of Valkenburg west of Maastricht.

Local news footage showed small rivers of water flowing through the scenic city centre’s streets and at least one old age home had been evacuated.

Officials also closed off several roads including the busy A2 highway, while fears remained that water from heavy rains in Germany and Belgium would push up river levels as it reached the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, the Luxembourg government set up a crisis cell to respond to emergencies triggered by heavy rains overnight as Prime Minister Xavier Bettel reported “several homes” had been flooded and were “no longer inhabitable”.

-AFP

Storms Leave At Least 19 Dead, Several Missing In Germany

An aerial view taken on July 15, 2021 shows the flooded village of Schuld, near Adenau, western Germany, after heavy rains and floods caused damages and tore down at least six houses and dozens of people went missing. 
Christoph Reichwein / dpa / AFP

 

\Heavy rains and floods lashing western Germany have killed at least 19 people and left around 50 missing, regional officials said, as rising waters led several houses to collapse on Thursday.

Unusually heavy rains also ravaged neighbouring Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium, where another two people were reported dead.

Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) states were the worst hit by the unusually heavy rainfall, which has caused rivers to burst their banks and threatens to bring down more homes.

“We have never seen such a catastrophe, it is truly devastating,” Rhineland-Palatinate premier Malu Dreyer told state lawmakers.

NRW leader Armin Laschet, who is running to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel in September elections, cancelled a party meeting in Bavaria to visit the scene in his state, Germany’s most populous.

“The situation is alarming,” Laschet told the daily Bild.

Four of the dead in Germany were in the municipality of Schuld south of Bonn where six houses were swept away by floods, a police spokesman in the city of Koblenz told AFP.

Several of the dead were recovered from flooded cellars while another eight people were reported dead in the district of Euskirchen.

In NRW alone, 135,000 households were without power.

Emergency workers struggled to evacuate people in endangered buildings and two firemen were killed in the line of duty in the towns of Altena and Werdohl.

 

 Rising rivers

An aerial view taken on on July 14, 2021 shows a flooded intersection in Hagen, western Germany, after heavy rain hit parts of the country, causing widespread flooding.
INA FASSBENDER / AFP

 

Police set up a crisis hotline for people to report missing loved ones and residents were asked to send in videos and photos that could help them in the search.

Rescue workers were deployed in helicopters to pluck people off streets and rooftops.

Regional official Juergen Pfoehler called on people to stay home “and, if possible, go to higher floors” of their houses.

The German military said it would deploy 300 soldiers across the two affected states to assist in rescue efforts.

Farther north in the city of Leverkusen, a power outage triggered by the storms led to the evacuation of a hospital with 468 patients.

City authorities reported that after intensive care patients were moved to other facilities overnight, the other wards would have to be cleared in the course of the day.

The environment ministry in Rhineland-Palatinate warned it expected floodwaters on the Rhine and Moselle rivers to rise with more rainfall.

 

‘Rarely experienced’

A man looks at a railway crossing damaged by the floods on July 15, 2021 in Priorei near Hagen, western Germany, after heavy rain hit parts of the country, causing widespread flooding. 
SASCHA SCHUERMANN / AFP

 

Neighbouring Belgium has also seen several days of heavy rain that has caused rivers in the French-speaking region of Wallonia to burst their banks. Two were reported dead.

The provinces of Liege and Namur were especially affected, with the resort town of Spa completely flooded. In the town of Chaudfontaine, daily Le Soir reported that nearly 1,800 people had to evacuate.

“We have rarely experienced such intense flooding. You have to go back to 1998 to have experienced this,” Chaudefontaine mayor Daniel Bacquelaine told RTL radio.

The country’s Infrabel rail network said it was suspending services in the southern half of the country on Thursday, given the risks to travel.

“It is indeed impossible to ensure the safe movement of trains for passengers or to have access to strategic areas for their staff,” Transport Minister Georges Gilkinet told Belga news agency.

The southern Dutch province of Limburg which is bordered by Germany and Belgium also reported widespread damage with rising waters threatening to cut off the small city of Valkenburg west of Maastricht.

Local news footage showed small rivers of water flowing through the scenic city centre’s streets and at least one old age home had been evacuated.

Officials also closed off several roads including the busy A2 highway, while fears remained that water from heavy rains in Germany and Belgium would push up river levels as it reached the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, the Luxembourg government set up a crisis cell to respond to emergencies triggered by heavy rains overnight as Prime Minister Xavier Bettel reported “several homes” had been flooded and were “no longer inhabitable”.

-AFP.

 

Six Dead, Nearly 50,000 Evacuated In Malaysia Floods

Residents walk along a road submerged by floodwaters in Mentakab in Malaysia's Pahang state on January 8, 2021, following heavy monsoon rains. Mohd RASFAN / AFP
Residents walk along a road submerged by floodwaters in Mentakab in Malaysia’s Pahang state on January 8, 2021, following heavy monsoon rains. Mohd RASFAN / AFP

 

At least six people have died and nearly 50,000 evacuated in Malaysia after monsoon rains pounded the country’s east coast, authorities said Friday, causing what residents described as the worst flooding in half a century.

Authorities have stepped up rescue operations after locals complained they had to fend for themselves earlier this week.

Heavy rains continued to batter the region on Friday, swelling the number of people abandoning their homes to more than 47,000, officials said.

“I have lost everything. The water has covered my roof,” 59-year-old factory worker Tan Kong Leng told AFP, tears filling his eyes.

Floods hit the region during the rainy season every year and regularly result in mass evacuations; but those in the affected areas say this year’s are the worst in decades.

Many roads, including the main expressway that links the east coast states, have been closed.

The worst-hit state is Pahang, where around 27,000 people have been evacuated in recent days, according to the social welfare department.

In one village in the state cut off by floods, residents were evacuated in an excavator on Wednesday, while others were forced to swim through deep waters.

Tan, the factory worker, and his wife took shelter at his plywood factory. They had just minutes to put their clothes in their car and flee to higher ground before the fast-rising waters engulfed their home.

“I am sad. All my fittings and fixtures are destroyed. My biggest fear is that more rain will pour in the coming days. Look! There are dark clouds moving in fast,” he said.

In one of the worst-hit districts in Pahang, residents complained that narrow and rubbish-filled drains contributed to the deluge.

Mentakab resident Muhammad Fadzil Wahab said he and other locals have formed their own patrol units to prevent house break-ins.

“We scout the entire flooded village at night with our small boats and torch lights,” he told AFP.

“My family members are safe at the evacuation centres.”

Adding to the complexity of rescue efforts, Malaysia is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases, reporting its biggest daily rise on Thursday.

But Fadzil said government help has started to intensify, including boats and military trucks.

“Thank Allah food, boats and medical assistance is now available,” he said.

 

AFP

France, Italy Step Up Rescue Efforts After Floods

Emergency personnel attempt to remove fallen trees from a bridge in Breil-sur-Roya, south-eastern France, on October 4, 2020, after extensive flooding caused widespread damage in the Alpes-Maritimes departement. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP).

 

French and Italian rescue services stepped up search efforts Sunday after floods cut off several villages in the mountainous border regions, causing widespread damage and killing at least four people.

Others remained unaccounted for on the French side of the border after storms, torrential rain and flash floods battered the area, washing away roads and houses, cutting off entire villages and triggering landslips.

Emergency services recovered at least four bodies Sunday on the Mediterranean coast of Liguria, Italy, ANSA news agency and other Italian media reported.

Italian and French teams were working together to try to identify them, but it was not yet clear that they were victims of the flooding or if their deaths had another cause.

In Breil-sur-Roya, a French village close to the Italian border, houses were buried in mud and turned-over cars were stuck in the riverbed.

Rescue efforts were concentrated on the Roya valley where roughly 1,000 firefighters, backed by helicopters and the army, resumed their search for survivors and helped people whose homes were destroyed or inaccessible.

Storm Alex barrelled into France’s west coast on Thursday, bringing powerful winds and rain across the country before moving into northern Italy.

“What we are going through is extraordinary,” said Bernard Gonzalez, prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes region, after as much as 60 centimetres (two feet) of rain fell in 24 hours in the worst-affected areas.

Italy confirmed two people died Saturday, a volunteer firefighter on a rescue operation and a man whose car was washed away.

France also announced two fatalities. The first found was a shepherd whose body was pulled from a river near the border. Firefighters later announced a man had been found dead in his car in the southeastern village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie.

France has declared the region a natural disaster zone.

Saint-Martin-Vesubie, a village home to 1,400 north of Nice, was completely cut off by the storm.

A bedraggled group of tourists and residents gathered in the village square to be airlifted to safety, an AFPTV journalist said after reaching the site on foot.

“My three-storey house, it’s in the river,” said villager Sandra Dzidt, 62, who had to flee the floods dressed only in her nightgown. “All I have left is a tiny piece of wall and a door.”

Across the region, emergency crews were handing out food and airlifting thousands of bottles of water into remote villages cut off by the storms.

– ‘Helicopter procession’ –

French Prime Minister Jean Castex inspected the damage by helicopter on Saturday, saying he feared the number of people missing could rise after dozens of cars and several houses were swept away in apocalyptic scenes.

Gonzalez called on the families of the missing not to give up hope.

“Just because their loved ones haven’t been able to get in touch doesn’t mean that they have been taken by the storm,” he said.

Many landline and some mobile phone services were disrupted, with some villages using satellite phones to communicate with rescue services.

Despite forecasts of more rain, rescue efforts were to continue throughout Sunday, Gonzalez said.

“The helicopter procession will continue all day long,” he said.

The presidents of Italy’s Piedmont and Liguria regions signed a joint letter calling on the government to declare a state of emergency with several villages cut off.

“The situation is very serious. It is like it was in 1994,” when 70 died after the Po and Tarano rivers flooded, Piedmont’s president, Alberto Cirio, told La Stampa newspaper.

“The difference being 630 mm of water fell in 24 hours — unprecedented in such a small timeframe since 1954.”

Cirio added Italy was already struggling to cope with the effects of the coronavirus which has left some 36,000 dead and shattered the economy over the past six months.

“We are already in an extraordinary situation. Because of the pandemic the region will this year receive 200 million euros less in tax receipts. If the state does not intervene (with rescue funding) we shall not recover.”

AFP

States Ignored NIHSA Warnings On Flood – DG

 

Amid the torrential rains that have led to floods being recorded in some states in the country, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency has said state governments ignored its repeated warnings on impending disaster.

The NIHSA Director-General, Clement Nze, said the agency had earlier issued the warning of heavy downpour and consequent flooding expected in the country but the state governments did not prepare by taking proactive and preventive measures.

“We cannot go to the states to pull down structures which the state governments had given permits to be built at wrong locations,” he said during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise.

“My agency sent out an alarm in April that this is the right season, that the best time to prepare for war is during the time of peace.

“Now that there is no rain yet, not much, or if there had been any rain at all as at February 4, no flooding incident had been recorded in Nigeria. That was the time states could have done some remedial measures. But what did the state governments do?” he said.

Nze noted that the agency raised another signal in July that most parts of the country were being ravaged by urban and coastal flooding caused by the absence of drainages and other structure.

NIHSA Boss, Clement Nze

 

To NIHSA boss, “the third leg of the flood is still coming sometime in August or September” but most of the states also ignored this warning.

Speaking on the way forward, Nze proposed that states should “build divergent structures as the River Niger is flowing.

“We have advocated that channels be constructed, artificial drainages, from the bank of the River Niger in each of the states as many as you can construct, build a deep channel during the dry season, let the water be 50km away from the bank of the river and then construct a reservoir, 50 meters in length and 30 meters deep so that when the water is passing during the rainy season, much will be entering these basins.

“By so doing, that will reduce the flooding you are seeing. And then, the water you have preserved will be used for all-round agriculture production.”

Niger, Kaduna Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto, Bauchi states, amongst others, have been ravaged by floods, with scores killed, thousands displaced and farmlands washed away.

Sudan Declares Three-Month State Of Emergency After Floods Kill Almost 100

Sudanese boys make their way through a flooded street at the area of al-Qamayir in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, on August 26, 2020. ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

 

Sudan on Saturday declared a three-month national state of emergency after record-breaking torrential floods that cost 99 lives.

“A nationwide three-month state of emergency has been announced as Sudan is considered a natural disaster zone,” the interior ministry said on social media.

Floods caused by more than a month of heavy rains have killed 99 people, injured 46, and left 100,000 damaged properties in their wake, one of the worst natural disasters in decades, according to state news agency SUNA.

North Darfur in the country’s west and Sennar state in the south were among the hardest-hit areas.

Heavy rains usually fall in Sudan from June to October, and the country faces severe flooding every year.

“The Blue Nile has reached an all-time high since records began more than a century ago,” said the irrigation and water ministry last week.

The latest report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan said Thursday that over 380,000 people had already been “affected” by this year’s floods.

The whole flooding season in 2019 affected 400,000 people, according to an OCHA spokesperson.

AFP

Mother, Four Children Killed In Abuja Flood

 

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has expressed regrets over the death of a mother and her four children in Abuja on Saturday, after torrential rainfall in Gwagwalada area council that swept away some houses.

Speaking in Gwagwalada after an on the spot assessment of the damage done by the rainfall, the director, planning. research and forecasting of NEMA, Mr. Kayode Fagbemi advised residents of flood-prone areas to immediately move out to avoid more disasters.

He said, “It is unfortunate, especially because we have lost lives. This is exactly what we have been trying to educate people on.

“There is a culvert over there, it’s likely it has been blocked, and so the water had to find its way above the road and then affected the house or houses.

“We still want to educate people, we are still going to have more rainfalls, we want the people to please clear all their drainages, waterways should be cleared of waste, and people should move, people that are close to waterways like this should move.

“We don’t want to lose more lives, we don’t want to lose people. We want people to know that flood this year has been predicted and whatever we can do to save lives we will do”.

READ ALSO: Nine Dead, 20,000 Affected By Niger Floods

Earlier in the year, the Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Retired Air Vice-Marshal Muhammadu Muhammad cautioned Nigerians residing in areas identified as flood risk areas to evacuate their facilities immediately to avert any form of disaster that may arise as a result of flooding.

According to Air Vice-Marshal, Muhammad about 102 local governments are expected to experience a high rate of flooding, he, however, notes that the agency has put in place measures to mitigate the impact.

In a statement, Mr. Muhammad said Kaura and Zaria local government areas in Kaduna state are among the high-risk areas and urged state emergency management agencies to help sensitize residents and prepare to evacuate communities.

The NEMA DG also advised governments to organise state humanitarian coordination forum meetings in order to prepare stakeholders for mitigation and response to floods when they hit.

Flood Kills 12 People In Western Uganda – Red Cross

At least 20 people have been killed as a result of floods and mudslides in the last week in Uganda.

 

Twelve people have been swept to their deaths by floods in western Uganda, the Red Cross said on Saturday, as the East African country is battered by torrential rain.

“We have recovered 12 bodies from the water and one person has been rushed to hospital with serious injuries,” said Diana Tumuhimbise, Red Cross branch manager in the Bundibugyo district.

“The rain started last night and continued until 9:00 am (0600 GMT),” she told AFP on Saturday.

“Several houses have been swept away, roads have been blocked and some washed away completely.”

The Red Cross has launched a search and rescue operation with the police, military and community members in 12 affected areas but it is not yet clear how many people are missing.

Rain is hampering communication in the remote location, on the border with DR Congo and separated from the rest of Uganda by the Rwenzori mountains.

At least 20 people have been killed as a result of floods and mudslides in the last week in Uganda.

The extreme weather has been blamed on the Indian Ocean Dipole — a climate system defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between western and eastern areas of the ocean.

At the moment, the ocean around East Africa is far warmer than usual, resulting in higher evaporation and moist air flowing inwards over the continent as rain: the hallmarks of a “positive” dipole.

Scientists warn that as ocean temperatures rise because of climate change, Indian Ocean dipoles will become more frequent and severe.

 

AFP

Buhari Commiserates With Victims Of Floods

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari commiserates with victims of natural disasters especially floods which have ravaged some states of the Federation recently. Particularly, there have been more occurrences in the Southwest and Southeastern parts of the country.

While the President notes that this phenomenon is not peculiar to Nigeria as is evident in other parts of the world, he assures that the occurrence, attributable in part to climate change, is attracting his attention and those of other world leaders, as evidenced by series of meetings and conferences on the phenomenon, the latest of which happened on the margins of the recent United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

READ ALSO: We Are Very Concerned About The Security Challenges In The FCT – Lawan

Commending the efforts of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for its intervention activities so far, bringing succour to victims in different parts of the country, President Buhari expresses concern that there is an overwhelming recourse to the federal body to come to the aid of the distressed whenever disasters occur, which should normally not be the case.

The President reminds other stakeholders of their roles as spelt out in the policy document on disaster management in the country, specifically calling on local and state governments to live up to their responsibilities by coming to the assistance of victims that fall within their purview.

President Buhari assures all Nigerians of his steadfast commitment to issues bordering on their welfare, promising that his administration is determined to inculcate better coordination of the plight of the citizenry through the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

Floods: NIHSA Blames State Govts, Developers For Ignoring Warnings

Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) on Monday blamed state governments, estate developers and other individuals for floods which have recently plagued different parts of the country.

Director-General of the agency, Clement Nze, in an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said state governments and agencies have repeatedly failed to set up measures but only resort to ‘fire brigade approach’ when flooding eventually occurs.

READ ALSO: Ondo Varsity Final-Year Student Swept Away By Flood

“The response to our predictions in terms of taking precautionary measures have not been quite pleasant. It is only when the disaster has occurred that people will now be taking the fire brigade approach.

“State governments, individuals, estate developers have not taken heed to our predictions. If they have done so we won’t be witnessing what is happening today. Response to our predictions are not encouraging,” he lamented.

NIHASA DG, Clement Nze

 

When questioned on roles played by the NIHSA to curb flooding following their predictions, Nze said the role of his agency is to merely advise and not enforce.

He added that ministries involved in enforcing measures that can prevent flooding are however engaged when flood alerts are issued.

“Whatever we do, we bring in different authorities that are in charge of enforcement. Ministry of urban planning, regional planning, environment, and others, are pre-informed.

“It is their role to implement. We are not an enforcement agency.”

Nze also blamed flooding on poor urban planning, and lack of drainages.

He warned that states located within the coastal region need to put up extra measures to prevent flooding concluding that “Coastal flooding will occur from time to time in places like Lagos, Ondo, and Bayelsa.

NIHSA earlier this year issued flood alert warning Nigerians of imminent increased flooding.

The hydrological agency predicted that no fewer than 74 Local Government Areas (LGA) in 30 states in Nigeria would experience severe flooding in June, July, August, and September.

They also warned that 279 local government areas would experience minimum flooding across the country in the period.

Niamey Residents Flee After The Worst Floods In 50 Years

A barefoot child walks past tents on September 11, 2019 in the makeshift camp of Saguia near the capital Niamey after the Niger river floods forced inhabitants out of the area.  BOUREIMA HAMA / AFP

 

“At last, we’re here!” Amina and Halima, who live in Niger’s capital Niamey, exulted after reaching high ground following the worst floods to hit the city in 50 years.

Two weeks ago, authorities in Niamey declared a red alert when the waters of the Niger river — the third biggest in Africa — rose to a level “not seen in more than 50 years”.

The floods have affected more than 6,300 people in the traditionally dusty city.

Nearly 60 have been killed and 130,000 displaced across the nation this rainy season, officials say.

Amina and Halima are among those who have been evacuated to tent shelters at Saguia in the highlands overlooking Niamey.

The women travelled in a van, but officials have been chartering all kinds of transport to move people in trouble, while others hire taxis, ride motorbikes and even walk.

Saguia is a patch of land owned by the army and usually off limits to the public.

In 2012, it was used to house about 400 soldiers from neighbouring Mali who had fled an offensive by Tuareg rebels.

For access to the site, people need “tickets” that are distributed in schools serving as transit centres for flood victims, according to the armed paramilitary police checking new arrivals.

The heights give a panoramic view of the homes and rice paddies largely submerged by the water.

 ‘Surprised in our sleep’ 

Inside the camp, the fire brigade and municipal employees have put up dozens of white tents supplied by the Red Cross and the United Nations.

“When people arrive here, they are installed in tents (…) and we have enough food for them all,” Niamey governor Issaka Assane Karanta told AFP.

A generator and a fresh-water well have both been repaired, lamp posts will soon be installed and a medical centre is open “for the treatment of emergency cases”, the governor said.

Some 122 households, comprising 854 people, have been allocated tents and the site can take in a total of 1,200 flood victims, he added.

“They gave us rice, millet, mosquito nets, blankets and drinking water,” said Aissa Salifou, putting on makeup in her tent, her head and shoulders covered in a broad veil.

“The water surprised us in our sleep,” added the woman from one of Niamey’s hardest-hit districts, Kirkissoye. “We had to demolish the walls in neighbouring houses to scramble out.”

“We live on the low ground where we were trapped by the water, but this place is spacious, well-aired and above all safe,” said Fatouma Boubacar, another Kirkissoye resident, watching her cooking pot on the fire.

 ‘I was lucky’ 

Though Boubacar arrived only two days earlier, she has resumed her customary job, selling vegetables.

“I was lucky,” said Ramatou Abdou, reclining in an armchair with a toothpick stuck between her teeth.

“I barely got out of the house before the roof fell in. I’m expecting my first baby in a month and I shall call it Saguia.”

In the shade of a huge tree, a dozen new arrivals awaited the completion of their shelters before moving in.

Barefoot children meanwhile made up football teams and chased a rag ball on a makeshift pitch in the baking heat.

On the far side of the camp, a policeman with a gun slung over his shoulder watched over a bunch of children carrying plates and queuing for a hot meal provided by an NGO.

“We’re trying to live here and waiting to see what Allah has in store for us,” Boubacar said.

The level of the Niger has fallen slightly after bursting its banks, but governor Karanta is urging people from affected areas to be watchful and “to keep well away from the bed of the river”.

Upstream in Mali, technicians have opened floodgates on a major dam and the extra water is “slowly but surely” flowing down to Niger, Karanta said.

AFP