Northeast braces for another blow
"How much more can we take?"
This is a question being asked by those in the country's Northeast, as the rivers there have been swelling for the second consecutive day yesterday, raising the chances of the region going underwater yet again.
The Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre stated that the water levels in all rivers, except the Surma and the Kushiyara, will rise in the 48 hours from yesterday morning.
Surma's water level at Chhatak upazila point was already flowing 99cm above the danger level yesterday.
The worst flood in the past 122 years has already affected 60 lakh people, destroyed one lakh homes, several thousands of kilometres of road systems, tens of thousands of latrines and water sources -- and may wreak more havoc.
The Sylhet divisional administration yesterday said that over 63 lakh people have been affected and at least half of them are from Sylhet district itself.
District officials confirmed it saying 30 lakh have been affected so far.
As many as 99,791 homes have been destroyed across the division, the administration said.
At least 1.3 lakh people are currently housed in about a thousand shelters there. The rest are boarding with relatives, renting homes or migrating to the slums.
Those who had returned home after the water began receding last week are in fear of having to evacuate again.
So far, the worst affected areas are Sunamganj's Chhatak, Dowarabazar, Tahirpur, Bishwambarpur and Sunamganj Sadar upazilas, including the district municipality.
Shafique Ali, a member of Chhatak's Islampur union parishad, said, "As it has been raining heavily, the water level has been rising and people are fearing yet another devastating flood."
Dowarabazar's Banglabazar union sits just downhill of the world's wettest place Mawsynram and the second wettest Cherrapunji of India's Meghalaya.
The rainwater from the hills enters Bangladesh through four transboundary rivers, which flow through the union and cause damage every time.
However, the people of the area have never seen a flood such as the one that began on June 15.
"The water rushing through the rivers has flooded all the villages in the upazila and affected 9,000 people so far. All roads have also been damaged," said Mohammad Abul Kashem, chairman of the union.
"Since the flash floods began, we have been detached from the rest of the country."
The floods in Sylhet have by now already damaged 8,033km of roads in four districts.
Md Mahbub Alam, executive engineer of Sunamganj LGED, said, "We are experiencing massive destruction. Not a single road was spared and it will take us years to repair them."
In Sylhet, around 4,000km of roads under the LGED and 160km of roads under the RHD were damaged in the floods.
In Sunamganj, LGED roads spanning around 2,000km and RHD roads around 184km were destroyed.
Meanwhile, in Moulvibazar, 381km roads under the RHD and 93km under the LGED have been damaged. In Habiganj, around 186km of LGED roads and 29km of RHD roads have been destroyed.
According to RHD and LGED officials, the monetary loss from the damages will be more than Tk 4,000 crore. This might increase after the final assessment of the flood fallout.
Md Mostafizur Rahman, executive engineer of Sylhet RHD, said, "All major roads, including highways, were affected and the loss is too huge to recover from soon."
These damages took place while both departments were planning the recovery from the May floods.
Meanwhile, the rising of floods threaten to cause further damage.
The Department of Public Health Engineering had initially assessed that 45,976 water points and 50,885 latrines have been damaged.
In a report published on Sunday, the United Nations Resident Coordinator Office's Humanitarian Coordination Task Team said at least $8.5 million will be needed to provide hygiene, safe drinking water and sanitation services to the victims.
The floods claimed four more lives in the 24 hours till yesterday morning, raising the number of fatalities to 92.
All of the latest victims died by drowning in Sherpur, Sunamganj and Habiganj districts, according to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Of the deaths recorded from May 17 till yesterday, 66 people died by drowning in floodwater.
Meanwhile, at least 14 died from lightning strikes, two from snake bites, one from diarrhoea, and nine due to other reasons.
On Wednesday, two children of the same family drowned in floodwaters in Uttar Godbha village of Durgapur union in Lalmonirhat's Aditmari upazila.
They were identified as two-year-old Ayesha Khatun, daughter of Rashedul Islam, and two-year-old Labiba Akter, daughter of Rubel Miah.
Moktarul Islam, officer-in-charge of Aditmari Police Station, said the two children were playing in the backyard and fell into the waters near the house.
Meanwhile, at a meeting of Paribesh O Haor Unnayan Sangstha in Sylhet city yesterday, citizens demanded a special allocation of Tk 1,000 crore from the government for the victims.
Kashmir Reza, president of the organisation, said students will need education materials and clothes, businesses will need loans without interest and a rebate from instalments of previous loans, and the farmers free seed and fertilizer.
He also stated that all flood-hit families should be given 30kgs of rice, 500 taka every month for a year, fodder for the cattle, and Tk10,000 for the 70,000 families whose homes were destroyed.
(Our Lalmonirhat correspondent contributed to the report.)