Homes and hearths drowned in deluge

Kurigram 6

“Everything was washed away before our eyes. We managed to survive somehow. Our little one is lost…”

Kachua Mamud (61) broke down in tears as he spoke. He had to shift from his home in Jagmohan Char of Bhogdanga union, Kurigram to take shelter on the Water Development Board’s embankment near the Bhogdanga Pateswari bazaar.

Kachua Mamud said, “I am a poor man, with nothing but this body. I had two houses, but on Sunday the river Dharla washed away everything.”

I boarded a boat Tuesday morning from near the Dharla bridge. On Sunday the Kurigram-Bhurungamari highway was damaged in three places. Road links were snapped between the district town and the upazilas. The boats were coming here from the upazila to carry people and their essentials.

The boat passed houses submerged in water, just the roofs poking up. Many houses and trees were bent over. There was water all around. The river gushed down from up north to the southern regions of the country. There was no one in these houses. Ducks and chicken sought shelter on the rooftops. Plants yellowed in the water.

A little further ahead was a row of eucalyptus trees, standing in 20 feet high water. Four men were seen on rooftops, trying to catch ducks and chickens and pull out rice and other food from within. The water rushed on as the boatman struggled to bring his boat to them. He tied the boat a tree. I asked the men their names. Akkas Ali (34) broke down in tears. He managed to control himself somehow, wiped his eyes and says. “There is nothing left, brother, everything is lost. I am wondering how to salvage these tin roofs.”

Next to him, Gazi Abdus Samad was pulling out gourds, chicken, rice and bamboos from under the roofs. He said, “The current washed away our houses and now they have been caught up in these trees. I am taking out whatever I can. I couldn’t find any money, bedding or anything else. I am staying on the road with my family.”

Westwards from here is Jagmohan Char. About 50 families would live on this sandbar. The houses here were in a dilapidated state, damaged by the water. There was no one there. It was like a ghost town.

Boatman Abdul Karim said, the people from this char have taken shelter half a mile away from here along the embankment, the Pateswari market and the road.

On the embankment, people and cows huddled together under sheets of polythene. There are no arrangements for sewerage or drinking water. The women bathed there and in the same water, babies, pots and pans as well as clothes are washed.

The 71-year-old Suratbhan said, “The river has made us beggars. I could not salvage anything. Everything has been washed away. We are on the embankment, suffering, with nothing to eat. Everyone is in the same situation.”

As he spoke, people rushed forward. News had come that the zila parishad chairman and district Awami League general secretary Mohammed Zafar Ali had come with packets of cooked meals.

Nanakar Char is the char next to Gajmohan Char. The 19 families of the char lost their homes too. Day labourer Abdul Ghani cried out, “Brother, I had one small house and now that too has been washed away. We’ve come here, but don’t even have money to buy polythene sheets. I’ve sent my wife to her father’s.”

Bhogdanga union chairman Saidul Islam said, “The people’s sufferings are indescribable. Their houses have been washed away in front of their eyes. The houses that remain are in a bad shape. We are helping out as much as we can from the union parishad.”

Kurigram sadar upazila UNO Al Amin Parvez said, “I have allocated 15 metric tonnes of rice and dry food today. Once the water subsides, the homeless will be given help.”

Source: The Prothom Alo