Dam couldn't save Char Momtaz people
Char Momtaz is just a strip of barren land on seashore, barely 120 km away from Patuakhali. The surge of water that the storm pushed ashore by Cyclone Sidr has claimed the lives of almost 300 men in these shores.
Back in 1970 the last disastrous cyclone in this area rendered the land bereft of most of its inhabitants. Locals say only a handful of people survived the wrath of nature back then. Residents say they faced worse danger this time round.
Farid Gazi, a 60-year-old resident here lost six of his family members to the cyclone in 1970. The elderly survivor says that the severity of the storm last week was way more than the 1970 cyclone. Back then there was no cross dam to protect the shores and there was less awareness about how to seek shelter at times of adversity. But this time even with the cross dam in place to protect the people, Cyclone Sidr had flattened the entire area with its fierceness.
In the 1970 cyclone the water had risen gradually and some people had been able to move to safety. This time round the warnings couldn't compete with the worsening of the situation. Within seven to eight minutes the water had risen up to 18 to 20 feet, overflowing the dam to wash away most of Char Momtaz and leaving a large number of people dead.
Shankar, a resident of nearby Golachipa upzaila, said though the no 10 warning has been levied in the area many a times since 1970, nature has never struck here with the severity of Sidr before. Another elderly resident of the area, Rahim Gazi, 65, said that in his long life he has never seen as many trees killed as were uprooted and destroyed this week.
He claims that in the whole of Patuakhali now, it would be hard to find a single house left without some damage or the other caused by the cyclone.
Patuakhali district officials have put the official death figure do far, between 259 and 315. Red Crescent society put the figure around 643. Some unofficial statistics claim the figure will exceed 1000 as more and more dead bodies are being discovered by the hour. Most of these bodies remain unidentified, as its difficult to establish how far they have been washed away from the different localities.
Relief items or help hasn't reached all the effected areas within Patuakhali. Residents in areas that have received preliminary help claim that the relief efforts aren't enough. People here are waiting for more help to reach them, as they come to terms with the many material losses nature has forced on them.