Evacuees, flood victims face torrid test

Published: August 1, 2010
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Flood-affected residents take shelter in a school at the Mohib Bhanda area in Nowshera on Saturday. PHOTO: AFP

Flood-affected residents take shelter in a school at the Mohib Bhanda area in Nowshera on Saturday. PHOTO: AFP

NOWSHERA: Flash floods have washed away more than 10,000 homes in Nowshera Kalan, officials said on Saturday. Many of its residents have moved to the neighbouring ASC Colony and the village of Ziarat Kaka Sahib.

District government officials in Nowshera claim that  more than 5,000 people have migrated to the village and its surrounding areas.

“There is neither food available nor  clean drinking water and people are lying on the streets,” wails Ilyas Shah, a resident of Ziarat Kaka Sahib village. “People have no shelter. The shopkeepers have increased the prices of commodities as getting goods is almost impossible,” Shah said.

One probable reason is that the area is landlocked. Food supplies normally reach these areas through Nowshera, which is now under water.

Health conditions are equally appalling. The one basic health unit in Ziarat Kaka Sahib is not even manned by a doctor. In case of any emergency or the outbreak of any disease, there isn’t anyone who can provide treatment. Like Ziarat Kaka Sahib,  the neighbouring ASC Colony has no hospital.

There is no official data available on the number of people who may have migrated to this area. However, Faraz Shah, a resident of the area, told The Express Tribune that all local residents had given shelter to around two to three families in their homes.

“The main problem is that our stock is ending and there is no water,” he said. This will be a huge problem in the coming days, he added.

The victims of the flood-ravaged areas say it was as if they were living through the horrors of a disaster film. Zeba bibi, 65, saw her home being inundated in Nowshera. “We learnt about it through the mosque loudspeaker,” recalls  Zeba, who has  family of 13 members.  The warning would have been handy if it had been made at least a day or a couple of hours before the actual flooding.  Zeba remembers the water gushing past their homes minutes after the announcement.

Zeba’s family first decided to take their valuables with them. “But we could not as the water level was rising rapidly,” she explains. The next day they learnt that their entire village had been submerged. “We have lost everything, everything,” she cried.

Zoo animals perish

The flood in Nowshera city came so suddenly that the keeper of the only zoo in the area could not get a chance to free the animals. All the animals drowned.

“We went to Nowshera Kalan to evacuate my sister and her family but within forty minutes the water was so high that even our truck was trapped in the torrent,” says Tahir Shah.  We used another vehicle to get there, he added.

However, some of their family members are stuck in the area and have taken shelter on a hill. “They are sitting on top of the hill and seeing their homes go under,” Shah’s nephew, Sheeraz, said in a trembling voice.

Shah Faisal Raza, a resident of Peerabad village of Charsadda reached his home on Saturday after the water level decreased. “Our homes are destroyed. We have shifted our families to nearby areas, which are relatively safe,” Raza said. “Hundreds of people are still missing,” he said and added that no rescue work has been started in the area yet.

Unfortunately, weather is not the only problem for the victims. Despite warnings from the meteorological department not to return to their homes, people in Peerabad say they are back as there is news of bandits looting whatever the flood has left behind .“I don’t know what kind of people they are. God is already unhappy with us and they are resorting to such bad things,” Raza said.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2010.

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