80% of Bayelsa under water yearly – Douye Diri
Living under makeshift tents, unprotected against mosquitoes, tossed about under rain without shelter, shortening food supplies, reduced night hours, dwindling economic fortunes, no palliatives, no intervention, no hope for tomorrow – all these describes the current situation for many in Amassoma.
Recall earlier that the State governor, Sen. Douye Diri stated that 80% of Bayelsa under water yearly. In relation, more than 90% of Amassoma have been submerged with only few main roads left as refuge points
With the increasing flood level, many residents have deserted their apartments. Even those who raised their properties with the initial hope that the flood may not be this high are now raising their properties up high again with others totally abandoning their apartments.
A survey of the Endipele park and sand dune through the in-town main road leading to Government secondary school indicates that the whole of that road is now a boatway – inaccessible to bike and vehicles.
Currently, those who have no place to go have made makeshift tents by the roadside to spend the next couple of nights – hoping the flood recede soon.
Hoteliers who were also sacked by the flood have decided to create temporary tents by the roadside. Some have been spotted opposite main campus gate across the NDU security building, while the Alamieyeseigha way serves as great refuge and ideal for persons Governor Douye Diri described as “now internally displaced”.
Boats have become the major means of transportation as bikes can no longer access major roads. The Endipele/Park through Government Secondary School is now a boat channel at an average knee level or 2ft deep. All the residents in these areas have vacated their buildings too.
The CHS road and all the houses in that area are not left out. The Jehovah’s Witness area is a major hit. Recall that this area is one of the first hit whenever there is flood in this aspect of the Amassoma road.
A major dilemma can be seen when there is heavy downpour with children and old women under the makeshift tents. With cold, mosquitoes and no resting place, life has become almost unbearable.
For the children however, it is a time to swim. Paddling from one area to another is another important part the children have engaged. Most locals were born and raised in the community, hence, swimming, canoeing and fishing is a major part of the Amassoma people.
It is very normal to see a parent allow her child of less than two to practice swimming in the water while she watches behind – something mothers from other ethnic groups may not permit.
Recently, food scarcity have started showing its ugly face as most food sellers now prepares smaller amount of food to avoid any loss. Hotels which hitherto sell till 10-11:00pm now finish sales as early as 8:00pm. This is majorly because their original stores have been overtaken by the flood. Now they sell in makeshift tents by the roadside.
We have also witnessed shortage of pure water as most pure water points now have little or no place to store bags of pure water. Hence, they find it hard to stock bags. It is becoming a bit difficult to get bags of pure water in many places in Amassoma.
Some major supermarkets have since closed down including the popular Exclusive supermarket who later reopened when the water settled. This is now making it hard to get certain products in Amassoma.
The water as at today have settled. No more dam water addition that previously makes the flood rise without rain falling. Currently, only rain water makes the flood to increase.
The Amassoma yearly flood (as in normal flooding elsewhere) comes in different stages. Here, I will like to classify it in three different stages:
- Stage 1: The Rising Stage
- Stage 2: The Settling Stage
- Stage 3: The Receding Stage
- And probably stage 4: The Aftermath
The Stage 1, which is the rising stage is the current stage we are where we witness normal heavy rainfall. In addition, there are some years when dam waters are released and usually cause overflow and heavy flooding.
The 2012, 2018, 2019 and the current 2020 flooding are very good examples of dam water impact on flooding. For now, the waters no longer rise as a result of dam water but rain water. Rains are still falling, so we still expect the water to rise.
The Stage 2, which is the settling stage is a time when the rains have dropped and seldom fall. Although the water hardly recede permanently as any lessening of the water level is greeted with rainfalls that brings the flood back to its previous height.
This stage 2 is usually characterized with instances of lowering and increasing water level. The water level is usually undulated as sun and rain battle for who is the boss. At this stage, many local theorists usually emerge, asserting that the water has started receding. Some also use the green vegetation (common water hyacinth) on top the water as a sign of lowering flood level.
Yet others also assert that the rains at this stage helps takes the water away. These local theories are self-serving and sometimes confusing rather than convincing. In all of it, that is just the stage 2. The water always maintains same level with erratic heights.
The Stage 3, which is the receding stage is characterised by the diminishing water levels. At this stage, you see the aquatic vegetation called common water hyacinth fill everywhere in Amassoma area.
These water hyacinth by the time of stage 3 are old, some weak and in many places you see them dead and dried. This is usually because at this stage, the water have dried off from where they usually floats and are left entangled to woods, walls, pavements, ground, etc.
At stage 4, the water recedes with noticeable speed to the knowledge of all, unlike in stage 2 when the recession level is arguable as it may go up again. This is already around last two weeks of November through first week of December.
Stage 4 can be attributed to the aftermath of the flood. At this stage, the Amassoma locals are seen sweeping their houses and getting rid of reptile hideouts. The environment too is also cleansed as the water current must have brought in dirt from various parts of the community and from neighbouring communities.
This brings to mind the dirty mindset of many locals. Many residents see the flowing water as a channel/opportunity to dispose their trashes. They drop their trashes in the water and the trashes are carried away only to hang in other residential areas.
This is a very bad mindset borne by many. If you dare challenge some, you look weird since it has become the normal practice amongst many. The Aftermath of the flood in some places looks very weird.
If you have watched some movies acted in strange locations like “After Earth”, then you may understand the situation. Huge trash, strange looks, stinking environments, tall grasses… all these and many more describes the situation after the flood.
Also, liquid dirt carried inside houses by the flood is another factor. Some becomes even difficult to wash off as they are somewhat permanently attached to surfaces. However, this period represents a period with signs of hope to residents as they all go back to their houses like the people of Israel who returned to Canaan after a long stay at Egypt.