How I Escaped Drowning In Mpoto River, In Awka Anambra State

On a faithful Sunday, my day began like every other Sunday, when I returned from the usual Sunday church service, my phone rang and it was an invitation to a meeting in Anaocha local government area of Anambra state.

My friend Chigozie Umeh and I (charles Ifeanyi Obi) set out for the journey at about 3pm. As we drove through Amawbia – Nise exit road of Awka to Agulu, we noticed a slight drizzling of rain which never seemed like anything serious… We barely noticed it and drove further down the road. However, we later observed a clumsy on the windscreen which made driving a bit difficult, giving us the first impression that the rain was actually beyond mere drizzling thereby making us turn on the wiper for the first time. As we drove far-off the capital city, the rain intensified but wasn’t anything comparable to a downpour; by the time we got to Anaocha (Adazi Nnukwu precisely), it was already around 6pm and we joined the meeting which lasted for hours within closed doors. We had no idea what was happening outside because the windows and doors of the hall were neither open. The meeting ended at about 8:30pm and we again set out to return to Awka that night. It started as a smooth journey as we drove through the newly constructed roads connecting Adazi, through Agulu Lake down to Nise. We barely met any vehicle yet we had to drive on limited speed knowing full well it had rained and the roads were wet. Just few distance after the St Paul’s College Nise (before the Mpoto River), we saw a long queue of traffic; we immediately reversed expecting an uncertainty but having parked and observed a while, it seemed to us neither a robbery incident nor accident scene. Again, we reversed and parked behind the queue then alighted and walked down the road to see for ourselves what a scene it was.

Nevertheless, to our bewilderment, it was as wild as a beast; I had never seen a thing like that but on television. The road had been divided and Awka (our homes) had been cut-off. It stretched for about some kilometers as we could see another queue and terrified crowd on the other end as they made exit from Awka.

We thought River Niger or Agulu Lake had lost its bank and may be swallowing everything it came in contact with but it took us some time to learn it was only a flood from the rain we barely saw as serious. Further down into the center of the flood was an 18 passenger bus belonging to the Eastern Mass Transport Company loaded to full capacity, it was not easy ascertaining where the noise was coming from as the flood roared like a hungry beast but yet an outcry from the bus whose passengers were shouting in different languages and praying to any available god/God, in total submission to the control of the waves.

After a while some rescue volunteers swam through the flood and saved the bus which was almost being pulled into the gully on one side of the road. 

After the rescue operation, I saw some people who dismounted the bus trembling with tears running down their faces and we took out time to sympathize with them, as the night got deeper, a motorcyclist on the other side of the road who had been waiting alongside others certainly jumped on his bike, Kick-started it and defied all plea by the crowd not to go into the flood, but few distance towards the center, he lost control of the bike and the flood swept him and his bike into the dungeon; Now that was another terrifying experience for most of us. We waited at both ends like the Isrealites waiting for the Moses to divide the sea…

Now it seems like an opportunity, the flood has reduced and some big vehicles had began crossing. A check on the time revealed it was already 11:30pm and it was forest on both side of the road, we we fetched some courage and headed on, first was myself on Range Rover Sport and Chigozie was to come over with the small car; I closed my eyes to the windows because it was of little difference with sailing on Bonny River in River state, the worst became of me as the car broke down in the middle of the high velocity flood leaving my hope of leaving a life on the other side shattered.

Now, it is my turn to pray, I prayed and sang but only a little courage was gained; I opened the door and tried stepping out of the car, but the force of the flood neither allowed my leg to touch the ground. I hurried back into the vehicle filled with thought and anxiety… I only knew I was to try something brave, I later summoned courage, held the vehicle tight and emptied my legs into the flood and with the help of some volunteers who rushed to my help and the person driving the vehicle, we were able to roll the vehicle back, out of the flood.

Back to base, we remained in shock and trapped like refugees till about 12am when the flood subsided and we then made a way through. That indeed was a breakthrough as we had a relief hoping to be home soon, at least reunite with family and loved ones who were already sleepless with the news brokered to them through phone calls.

Unfortunately, few drive away from the flood scene, was another scene but this time not a flood incident but lumps of sand (mud) washed down from the hill on the left thereby making the road almost impassable, there were some vehicle already stocked therein so we had to join another queue… Moments after, the road was clear and all other vehicles had left but only God knows what. Our vehicle had absorbed water and could not start any more, it was about 12:30am and this time, it was only Chigozie and I on the lonely dark road and all what we hear was sound of running water from all conners of the road. We spent about 30 minutes working on the car and finally, it came up. We hurriedly made our way home; it had remained a trauma until I doused it off.


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