Thousands leave flooded areas on their own

Emran Hossain with Rezaul Karim Manik in Lalmonirhat | Published: 23:24, Jul 12,2020


Swelling rivers caused thousands of people to move away from their homes as their flood ordeal continued while they alleged a complete absence of government assistance to evacuate them from remote low-lying areas.

With their villages lying under water, houses submerged barring the roofs, flood victims thronged river banks, asking local boatmen to take them across the rivers flowing above their danger marks.

Some of them carried valuables, most carried rice sacks and livestock on their backs, as authorities issued a red alert on Sunday afternoon, asking people living in the Teesta and Dharla basins to seek safe shelter.

The Jamuna, Surma, Jadukata and Someswari swelled rapidly as well, flowing nearly a meter above the danger level with flood forecasters predicting the rivers to become a huge deluge by Wednesday.

Official estimate showed 26,000 people left their homes on Sunday with 17,600 of them seeking shelter at educational institutions opened as flood shelters in Rangpur, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat.

But they all had to make their way through dangerously eroded road submerged in floodwater and ferociously flowing rivers on their own.

Aslam Uddin, a resident of Goddimari, Hatibandha, Lalmonirhat, lost half of his belongings on the way.

‘There was so much rush that the rice sack I was carrying slipped through my hand,’ said Aslam.

Aslam also could not pay the boatman for bringing him across the river.

But there are many people too poor to request a boatman to help them cross the river for they could not make any promise to pay them back.

Sakhina Bewa, Khasru Mia and Amzad Hossain, all residents of Challish Shal Char, Lakkhitari, Rangpur, are three such unlucky people who had no way of seeking shelter anywhere, not even on the embankment.

‘The government thinks it has done enough by letting us know that the situation would get worse, more water would come to wash us away,’ said Sakhina Bewa.

State minister for disaster and relief Enamur Rahman and disaster management secretary Mohammad Mohsin could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.

Nayeb Ali, district relief and rehabilitation officer at Jamalpur, the worst affected district where over 3 lakh people have been affected by flood since June 27, said that they have 12 boats for transporting people in emergency situations.

But none of 150 families sheltered in three shelter centres in the district used the boats — instead they arrived of their own accord.

On Sunday, Asif, 47, a resident of Char Ghorial Danga, Rajarhat, Kurigram requested local authorities to help him relocate his house by lending him a boat but did not get it.  

‘I was told that the boatman refused to work for he had not been paid by the government his salary for a long time,’ said Asif.

Ghorial Danga union parishad chairman Ranajit Kumar said 700 families left their homes overnight, all on their own.

Sarwar Ali, Belka Union, Gaibadnha, waited nine days for help to arrive to get his nine member family to safety as he remained stranded in flood waters and all the ways out from his village were badly damaged.

Half-starved, the family decided to make the dangerous journey on Sunday and finally made it.

Sunamganj deputy commissioner Abdul Ahad said that people were mostly unwilling to leave home for shelters.

‘They choose to remain stranded and are able to cope with the flood on their own,’ he said.

The official estimate showed 27 people died by drowning or from snakebites between June 30 and July 11.

Directorate of Disaster Management said that nearly 15 lakh people in 15 districts were affected by the flood.

A FFWC bulletin said that eight rivers were flowing above the danger level at 16 points and Bogura and Sirajganj would get freshly submerged by Monday morning.

Extremely heavy rainfall continued upstream and is forecasted to keep up through Monday, according to India Meteorological Department.

The FFWC bulletins recorded extremely heavy rainfall inside Bangladesh, especially in the north-eastern region.  

Bangladesh Meteorological Department recorded the country’s highest rainfall of 158mm at Chuadanga in the 24 hours until 9:00am on Sunday.

The BMD issued a heavy rainfall warning for Rajshahi, Khulna, Barishal, Rangpur, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Dhaka and Chattogram until 6:00am on Monday.

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