By WINDS OF PAIN Written by furtune News Mar 2, 2010 Winds of pain By Modey Peters

nerPostTitle">WINDS OF PAIN Written by furtune News Mar 2, 2010

Winds of pain
By Modey Peters
March 2, 2010 12:45PM A community water project in Eket destroyed by a communication mast during a rainstorm on Sunday.

When the people of Ekori, Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River state first sighted the gathering cloud last Thursday, there was joy that the expected rain would bring relief to the parched soil and reduce the heat.

But then it turned out to be too much of a good thing. The windstorm that followed the rain destroyed some 100 houses in the community and displaced about 300 people.

Brought down
Most of the structures that are still standing completely lost their roofs while others were partly uprooted by the storm.

Public and private schools were also seriously affected, disrupting classes, while some private schools have been forced to close down.

Many of the victims, particularly women and children, are exposed to a harsh weather as they are presently forced to huddle in makeshift rooms and huts.

The assistant director of information at the Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, David Akate, who carried out a rapid assessment of the area, lamented the spate of windstorm-linked disasters in recent times in the state. He said this has destroyed property worth millions of naira and blamed the phenomenon on global warming.

'We commend the magnanimity of friends, neighbours and relatives of the victims for displaying the humanitarian gesture of the African culture by accommodating the displaced persons,' he said. 'Trees that could have acted as wind breakers were lacking in the community and this worsens the impact of winds.'

Mr. Akate called for the planting of ornamental trees to reduce the state's vulnerability to storm.

Unprecedented disaster
He assured the victims of the state government's concern, stating that efforts would be intensified to provide relief.

The Obol Lopon of Ekori, Obol Donatus Ibor Ofem, described the 45 minute storm as unprecedented. 'The disaster, which started at about 11pm and lasted for about 45 minutes, caused panic in the community,' he said. 'We thank the State Emergency Management Agency for its prompt response to the disaster and hope that relief to the victims will not be delayed.'

A visually-challenged man, 60-year-old Moses Ekpe, whose home was substantially destroyed, said when the roof of the house was suddenly uncapped with a loud bang, he was thrown into a confused state and had to cower under the rains in his bedroom, not knowing where to go to or what to do.

Other victims appealed to the state and federal government to help them with building materials to rehabilitate their houses.