The strong wind that heralded rainfall in the wee hours of Tuesday last week was a welcoming relief from the several nights of heat in Kaduna State. But the torrential rainfall that followed and gave many a refreshing succour had also posed danger to some people in parts of the city.
Kigo Road in Kabala Costain in Kaduna city was one of such communities that received the lashings of the early morning rain. The famous River Kaduna, situated behind the community, having been filled to its banks unleashed havoc on residence. Though no one was killed or injured, residents say their properties and vital assets tell a different story.
Malama Rahama Shuaibu Lawan had awaken during the strong winds and decided to make supplications in the last 10 days of Ramadan. The 55-year-old said because she lived close to the river, she had been uncomfortable throughout the night and had continued to peep outside a compound she shared with other tenants to observe the flow of rain water gushing through the drainage.
But a few minutes later, Malama Rahama said the water had found its way into her apartment and began to trickle from beneath her door. “I quickly peeped out again and noticed the entire compound was filled with water and some of the items in the compound were floating. I quickly woke up the children and my neighbours so we could find our way out,” she said.
Rushing out of their rooms in the rain at about 2am, the family matriarch said they had been faced with another challenge when several attempts to open the main gate to the house became unsuccessful. “The water from the outside had reached a high level and so had blocked the gate. After several attempts, we were successful and mass of water gushed into the compound.”
Daily Trust Saturday met Mrs. Linda Paul Nzekwue and her family cleaning their home after the early morning chaos. “We were asleep,” the mother of two narrated. “We heard my mum scream that there is water everywhere and immediately we jumped out of the bed, our legs landed in a puddle of water because the water had entered the house, everything was soaked, the rooms, kitchen and foodstuff were all soaked,” she said.
For Firdausi Hassan, a mother of three, it was not as bad as much of the water had settled within her compound with only little gaining access into her home. Living in a steep area, Firdausi said she had equally been awaken by the heavy winds and said her entire compound had been filled with water.
“I was scared so we felt the best thing was to remain indoors because the water was just too much in the compound. We backed the kids and as God will have it, just about two hours later the rain stopped and the ground began to absorb the water. So, all we did was to start cleaning the house,” she said.
This year’s flooding came too early
Typical of flash floods, Jibrin Mohammed Abubakar said flooding was a recurring phenomenon in the area but had only taken residents by surprise this year because it came too early. Malama Rahama said the months of August and September are when residents prepare for the flood by taking extra precautions. “We usually get ready for it, we erect top shelves so as to place our vital items and food stuff but this flooding in May has taken us unaware, we were not prepared,” she said.
Grains, pasta, cloths and valuable documents have all been washed away, while mattresses, carpets were soaked by the flood.
Lawal Gambo, 60, whose family live in a rented apartment close to the river displayed a little millet that was salvaged from the flood after the earth had swallowed most of the water. Gambo said a similar situation had occurred last year in August but explained that Tuesday’s flooding, occurring in May, had left everyone perplexed. “Our food stuff, cloths and other valuable have been lost, only a little millet was salvaged,” he said.
For Mohammed Murtala Abdulkareem, he has since mastered the timing of the flooding and for six years since he settled in the area, Abdulkareem often vacates his home for the flood. “Usually, between August and September, I move my family out of this place to my grandmother’s home and when the rains have passed, we return to salvage whatever we can. We start to do the cleaning from scratch and fix back everything,” he said.
He further stated that “this is not the first time we are experiencing flooding, in fact, this is not the 10th time, it has always been like this. The only problem is that it took us by surprise in May. Sometimes we begin to see the signs in July and for me, I then relocate my family. For two to three months every year when I anticipate a flooding, I move my family then return later and stay for nine months before the next flooding when we would leave again.”
Abdulkareem, like Friday Peters, a landlord who has lived in the area for many years, have not only lost vital documents but both are grateful the flooding had occurred when their families were away.
River Kaduna, Dan Bindin-Bindin as main culprits
Scientists categorize flash floods as the most dangerous kind of floods, because they combine high speed and destructive power. As kids, Jibrin Mohammed Abubakar, a resident of Kigo Road said they had nicknamed the stream behind Kigo Road Dan Bindin-Bindin. He however said he cannot explain why or what it means. River Kaduna and Dan Bindin-Bindin seemed to be the culprits of Tuesday’s devastation on residents of Kigo Road in Kaduna.
The heavy rain which filled the River Kaduna’s banks had overpowered the slow, sleepy and meandering Dan Bindin-Bindin stream, exponentially bursting its banks and emptying its content into homes, farms and empty plots of land. As at 9:30 am on Tuesday, much of the water from homes had rescinded and all that was left was the result of its two hours of devastation. Behind the dozens of homes on Kigo Road, Dan Bindin-Bindin as usual, quietly meanders its way into River Kaduna as though nothing had happened. However, a few meters to its discharge point, the stream begins to slow down, a situation residents say is caused by many blockages on its path.
While many see a connection between River Kaduna, Dan Bindin-Bindin stream and blockages to the recurrent flooding, some residents say a recent bridge construction work taking place around the river could have caused sand blockage, eventually forcing River Kaduna into other channels.
Friday Peters, who owns a home in Kigo Road, buys into this theory and says, “I believe the ongoing bridge construction around River Kaduna may have blocked some channels of the river because I can’t believe we would have flooding at this time, after a first rain.”
Mohammed Murtala Abdulkareem simply believes that the stronger currents of River Kaduna had simply pushed back Dan Bindin-Bindin; with a weak and slow current causing the flooding. “There are also parts that have been blocked and need to be cleared. Other than that, I’m not sure there is a permanent solution to the flooding,” he said.
Linda blames the owner of an empty plot of land next to her home as being responsible for the water getting into her house. “The owner wanted to develop his land and because it is a waterlogged area, he brought in toppers of sand and in the process, they broke the gutter. Instead of fixing it, they used stones to block the gutter and of course blocking the water channel and diverting it to my house.”
But Alhaji Saminu Idris whom Linda was referring to said, “It is not possible to say the work on my plot of land is responsible for the flooding in her home, we are all victims of the flooding.” Idris who was equally on his plot to assess the level of damage said the force of Dan Bindin- Bindin which is directly behind his plot had washed crops and emptied its trash on his plot of land which had equally affected Linda’s home.
For Lawal Gambo, Dan Bindin-Bindin stream needs to be unblocked to find its way. And to do that, residents must stop discharging refuse into the stream. “People come from other places to dump refuse in the stream; that is why you can see all sorts of refuse in the water. If this is done, then the state government needs to come in to erect high, solid fences around the stream to protect residents from subsequent flooding,” he said.