Sylhet, Sunamganj floods worst in recent memory
Worsening floods in Sunamganj and Sylhet districts have resulted in power outages, closure of many schools as they have been turned into makeshift flood shelters, and vast areas being inundated, with locals saying the flood is worse than the ones they experienced in 1998 and 2004.
Floods of higher magnitude caused by heavy rain upstream in Meghalaya-Cherrapunji have surpassed most records of the past.
According to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Center, at 9:00am today (June 17, 2022), water of the Surma river was flowing 108cm above the danger level at Kanaighat point in Sylhet, 70cm above at the Sylhet city point and 120 cm above at the Sunamganj town point.
Jahangir Hossain, deputy commissioner of Sunamganj, said the severity of the flood situation has surpassed all past records.
The Sarigowain river is flowing 23cm above danger level at Sarighat in Jaintapur upazila of Sylhet while Puratan Surma river is flowing 2cm above the danger level at Dirai in Sunamganj.
Jahurul Islam, executive engineer of Water Development Board in Sunamganj said the water level of Surma was 70 cm above the danger mark at the Sunamganj point during a major flood in 2020. Today, Surma's water is flowing 120 cm above the danger level.
Around 674 mm rainfall was recorded in the last 24 hours in Meghalaya- Cherrapunji, upstream of Sunamganj, which received 185mm of rain in 24 hours. The rain water combined with the water from upstream has inundated even the highest point of Sunamganj town.
Markets in the heart of the Sunamganj town were also inundated in the flood water.
Sirajul Islam, president of shop owners' association in Sunamganj town, said, "Even in 2004, I did not see so much water in a day. In the last 20 years, the people of Sunamganj have not seen such a terrible flood situation."
Monazzir Ali Mamun, a resident of Wakilpara in the town, said, "Our family are century old residents of this town. There has never been knee-deep water in our house before. If the water has flooded our house, then many other houses in the town likely to be under knee-deep water."
Salim Ahmad, a resident of Tegharia, said, "There has been no flood in my house before, this time the water inundated my house. Many of the houses in West Tegharia or Barapara have been submerged. It has become difficult to walk on the road. Thousands of people in the town are marooned."
Around 38 percent of the country was inundated in 2004, according to Prof AKM Saiful Islam, of Buet's Institute of Water and Flood Management.
Syed Ahmad Chowdhury, senior meteorologist at Sylhet Meteorological Office, said Sunamganj received 185 mm of rain in 24 hours. The flood situation in Sunamganj may also worsen as rain is on the forecast for the next four days.
A flood information centre has been opened at the Sunamganj deputy commissioner's office. Seventeen shelters have been opened in Chhatak, 16 in Daurabazar and 10 in Sunamganj Sadar.
The administration will help all those who are unfit to stay in their homes in this flood situation, by bringing them to shelters and providing temporary food assistance, including dry food.
The Sunamganj DC sought everyone's cooperation in dealing with the situation.
Karim Mahmud of Gucchagram village under Purba Jaflong union in Sylhet's Gowainghat upazila, said, "The level of the floodwater is reminding us of the 2004 and 1998 floods. Most people are heading to shelter centres but we also need urgent aid for people to be carried to the centres."
Aminul Islam, a resident of Sylhet city's Upasahar area, said, "Only two weeks ago, we experienced a flash flood and now another blow, which has turned out to be more devastating. We don't know how long we will be stranded in the flood."
Md Mozibur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Sylhet, said, "The situation is getting dangerous and the Army responded to our call to help stranded people in the flood. We are trying our best to rescue people and to extend relief to them."