Flood victims help one another as they try to recover from disaster

Jul 14, 2018-Sujata Shrestha and her husband Rakesh of Kameretar, Bhaktapur, skipped their office on Friday to drain out the water from their flooded apartment.

The couple and their two children live in a ground floor of a house that is situated in a low-lying settlement that witnessed heavy inundation when the Hanumante river spilled over its banks and flooded hundreds of homes on Thursday.

“Everything we own are either submerged or floating in floodwaters. We don’t know when the things will be back to order. This is heartbreaking,” lamented Sujata.

The couple has send their two children, aged seven and elven, to their relatives in Kathmandu until they have sorted their affairs out. What the Shrestha couple was going through on Friday applied to most families in Kameretar and the settlements nearby.

Purushottam Karki, a cattle farmer from Radhe Radhe, wore a tired and forlorn look. He had not slept well after the flood swept away his barn that housed his 12 cows and some chickens. “I managed to rescue the animals with the help of my neighbours, but now I have the task of building them a new shelter and buying them feed. For 40 years, I had been maintaining this farm. It is gone now,” he said. Sleep was scarce for hundreds of people in Jagate, Hanumanghat, Barahi, Sallaghari and Shrijana Nagar as well.

With their homes and apartments submerged in floodwaters, many of them took shelter at their neighbours’ and relatives’ homes on Thursday night. They were busy throughout Friday, draining out floodwaters and arranging household items.

They did not even have drinking water until the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL) distributed water in their settlements in the afternoon.There were many families who also needed food and clothes, but those items had not reached them until late afternoon.

A meeting of the District Emergency of Disaster Management Committee on Thursday evening had announced to distribute relief materials in the flood-affected areas, but many families in had not received any aid until late Friday afternoon.

“We have not received any help from the government agencies so far. Most of us are relying on our neighbours and relatives for food and shelter,” said Sarita Giri of Sallaghari. As of Friday afternoon, more than 500 homes were still submerged in flood waters.

“Families living in ground floors and the people living in temporary shelters following the earthquake of 2015 have been greatly affected by the flood,” said Himal Shrestha, spokesperson for Bhaktapur District Police Office.

Floodwaters have not receded in many settlements built on low-lying areas. Some people were seen using motor pumps to remove water from their homes on Friday.

Schools, shops, offices and factories in the flood-affected areas were closed as a result of the flood. Chief District Officer Narayan Prasad Bhatta said the clear picture of the damage was yet to be ascertained. “The concerned local units have been instructed to distribute relief through one-door policy,” he said. Geologists have claimed that encroachment of river banks, haphazard sand mining and unscientific town planning had led to inundation problem in Bhaktapur.

“The river has narrowed because of encroachment. When the water flow in the river increases , it is bound to breach its banks and flood the settlements,” said Ananta Prasad Gajurel, head of Department of Geology at Tri-Chandra College.

“This is a man-made calamity and the concerned authorities should take measures to prevent such disaster from repeating.”

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