Thousands of villagers in Nigeria’s Plateau State are currently scrambling for shelter following a mid-day tornado strike that crushed dozens of houses, described by local officials as the worst disaster in history.
“Because where you cannot even see the foundations of buildings that had existed for more than 50 years, it is very disturbing,” said a distraught member of the Nigerian House of Reps – Mr. Solomon Maren.
A once tall farming Maiduna town on the west of Bokkos Local Government Area was on 13 May leveled by tornado which ripped and splattered roofing sheets several meters from the town.
Another town – Mangor, located three miles from Maiduna had few houses crushed by the storm.
Witnesses say the storms started at noon time while majority of residents were at their farms.
“We were at the farm when we saw a violently spinning cloud of smoke stretching from the sky right down to the ground near the town,” said a father of eight – Mr. Lange Matawal who lost two houses in the disaster.
“Those who were still in the town ran out when they noticed the storm was approaching, while those of us in our distant farms watched helplessly as it ravaged our houses,” said Matawal.
“My house and my son’s house with a total of 17 rooms were destroyed by the storm,” he said.
Close to 100 houses and at least two Churches and a school were smashed to rubbles by the disaster which displaced more than 1000 residents according to a local town leader, Mr. James Joro.
More than five hectares of farmlands with grown crops were also scorched dry, said Joro to our correspondent.
“I don’t know how my people will cope with life this year,” he said.
The disaster has threatened to increase hunger and poverty among residents, said Rep Maren.
“It means that there will be no food to eat this year,” said the lawmaker who represents Bokkos and Mangu counties at the Nigerian House of Reps.
“We have never seen this type of disaster that farm crops are not spared,” he noted, worrying affected residents would be homeless during the raining season.
” It means that at this time of the year, it will be difficult for them to get a place to sleep. At the moment, they will be sleeping in the rain, they will be sleeping in the cold and they will have no where to go,” he said.
Maren appealed to philanthropists and government agencies to provide urgent humanitarian aid to the displaced families, including temporary shelter to enable them pick up and rebuild.