Mourning deaths: Flood survivors struggle to find dry space to keep coffins

Several residents rely on neighbours for food as flood washed away ration, stoves.


Saadi Town is still submerged in water after Saturday’s rainfall. No clean drinking water is available for residents after floodwater seeped into the pipelines and underground tanks. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI:


Three days after violent floodwaters collapsed a portion of Abdul Samad’s house, killing his wife, teenage son and six-year-old niece, the grieved man sits on a broken charpoy under the open sky, desperately waiting for assistance. “I am living on the street because there is so much water inside. Nobody has come to help us.”


In a matter of minutes, the man in his 40s lost his family and house. Samad’s father, a bearded old man in a security guard’s uniform, walked toward the house, making his way through the scattered bricks and unlocked rooms where furniture was immersed in water. “We had to find higher ground to keep the coffins because the area was flooded,” he said. “Should we mourn the death or clear the place of water?”

Residents of Bhittaiabad slum and other such settlements that fall within the Kirthar Range suffered the most when the heavy rains lashed the city on Saturday. While the armed forces came to the rescue in some neighbourhoods, the authorities have yet to pump out water. Even political parties have chosen elsewhere to set up their aid camps.



Samad recalled that it was during Sehri when water gushed into their house. He had brought the children outside, and went to bring the others, when two of them - one of whom was his own son - ran back inside. Along with the deceased, Samad and his two brothers were buried in the rubble but they survived - Samad with a broken leg and his brothers with a broken back and an injury on the forehead.

“It was a nightmare, pulling out bodies with water all around,” he said, wiping off tears with his hand. “The ambulance came after a long time. We felt like this was the end.”

A few blocks away in Bakhtawar Goth sweeper Yousaf Masih’s mud-plastered house is surrounded by dirty water. With his three children perched upon the wall, Masih and his relatives were busy tossing out water with their pots and pans.

“I have heard that the army is helping out people in Saadi Town and other societies,” he said. “They need to come to us also and bring their machines.”

According to the residents, nearly 12 houses have been swept away by the waters and their residents have shifted to other areas. Many lanes inside the locality are still inundated with knee-deep stagnant water, with flies hovering and garbage floating.

Sitting outside her home, an old woman Maqsooda in broken Urdu pointed out that they had been surviving on very little food they took from their neighbours “My family has not eaten properly in two days as the water swept away our stove,” she said. “When the waters came, we spent the night on the rooftop.”

Flood water reached into this area around three in the morning after passing through around Saadi Town five hours ago. Hameed Gul, whose house has also been damaged, felt they could have saved their homes had the government warned them before hand. “I could have saved the little amount of goods we owned had we been informed earlier,” he complained. “But everyone seemed to have forgotten about us.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2013.

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