Govt warned of coastal flood staying till winter

Emran Hossain | Published at 11:51pm on August 28, 2020

Local government offices in the flood-affected coastal region sought relief assistance for a month after warning the government that the flood might stay until next dry season, which is about two months away.

Dozens of breaches in polders, which are earthen embankments that enclose low-lying areas, kept getting bigger every day with high sea tide pushing huge amount of water through them. With some of the breaches stretching hundreds of metres, seawater inundated fresh areas, forcing dozens out of their homes.

Three rivers, including the Padma, still flowed above their danger levels in central and southern Bangladesh with the health emergency control room saying that deaths from flood-related causes reached 251 until Friday.

‘The sea tide seems very strong this year and almost all our effort to repair breached embankments have failed,’ Satkhira’s Ashashuni upazila nirbahi officer Mir Alif Reza told New Age.

‘It is highly unlikely that the damaged embankments would be repaired until the next dry season,’ he said, adding that he requested the government to send a month’s worth of relief and prepare more for the coming days.

As many as 60 villages are completely submerged in water in the upazila with two unions completely and two others partly under water until Friday as flood continue to take its toll since August 18, said Alif.

About 1,00,000 people are now stranded in the upazila alone and similar flooding is experienced in the district’s Shyamnagar and also in Koyra upazila of Khulna.

About 400 poor families were rendered homeless as the flood washed away their flimsy houses in Ashashuni and 1,400 families got their houses partly damaged already according to official estimate.

Long-term stay of water is likely to render many more families homeless because homes of the poor living in the coastal region are either thatched or mud houses.

‘Water stagnation will continue to haunt vast areas even after floodwater receded when the sea is on the ebb or embankments are repaired,’ said Alif.

New Age correspondent in Khulna reported that 16,188 houses were completely or partly damaged in Koyra upazila where two unions are completely and another one is partly under water.

Water Development Board officials said that a dozen breaches were still allowing seawater to move inland and it might take the next month for them to repair the holes.

Local government officers and WDB officials said that polders weakened over the years becoming less effective against the sea apparently getting stronger.

They said that they suggested that the government should come up with plans for building permanent protection rather than mud walls to hold back the sea.

Meanwhile, the number of people died from flood-related causes reached 251, according to the health emergency control room.

The control room has been counting deaths from flood-related causes like drowning, snakebite and waterborne diseases since June 30, three days after the worst flood in two decades began in Bangladesh.

The flood affected over 5.5 million people in 33 districts in northern and central Bangladesh at its peak in late July.

The coastal flooding began 10 days ago in seven coastal districts when many areas in central Bangladesh were still affected by flooding.

Jamalpur and Tangail emerged as the worst affected districts in terms of loss of lives due to the deluge with 32 and 41 deaths, respectively.

Kurigram recorded 24 deaths while Manikganj 26, Lalmonirhat 19, Gaibandha 16 and Sirajganj 15.

The other districts where flood-related causes claimed lives include Nilphamari, Sunamganj, Kishoreganj, Rangpur, Rajbari, Netrokona, Naogaon, Dhaka, Shariatpur, Munshiganj and Gopalganj.

Of the deceased, 210 people died of drowning while 25 from snakebite.

As many as 13 people were killed by lightning in flood-affected areas while three other died of diseases, said the health emergency control room.

National Disaster Response Coordination Centre however reported 42 deaths from drowning between June 27 and August 19, the last day the government updated its flood report.

The NDRCC reported that with 15 deaths the highest number of flood casualty occurred in Jamalpur.