Squatters, the hardest hit
SAPTARI, July 4: Floods which hit over a dozen villages in Saptari on Saturday have rendered thousands of people in the district homeless. While the flood victims are crying out for help and relief, the government mechanism seems in a sorry state. According to the victims, they have not been provided even food since the disaster hit them. Among the affected, the squatters are the hardest-hit. They complain of being ignored by the state completely.
"We feel so helpless. We expected support from the government, but to no avail," said Lalita Mandal of Maleth. She added that there is nothing left in her house as the flood washed away all the food grains and other belongings.
Locals of Raipur, Pauta Tole, Maleth and Jolhari, among other villages lamented that they were severely hit as they were not prepared for the disaster. Or else, there are some flood-prone areas in Saptari and people in those areas are often well-prepared to face floods triggered by Khando, Mahuli and Jeeta rivers.
"It came so suddenly that we could not think of anything. This time, the areas which were earlier considered safe have been hit," noted Mandal. "The victims have not been able to cook food since the floods," she added.
According to her, she never heard of floods in her village for decades. Victims from other areas report the same.
The victims were little at ease as there was no rain the next day. On Sunday, when the water level receded, some families were cooking food. But not everyone was so lucky.
"We had a house of mud. So, no hope of getting it back. It got washed away in the flood," stated Saraswati Mandal of Pauwa Tole. She added that the poor people have no choice but to face the flood effect for long while the rich ones get back to normalcy quite fast.
Mandal is from the squatters' community. She reported that all the families in her community are in the need of food and shelter. "I have seven members in my family. I do not know how to feed them," she said.
Around 200 families of different areas have been homeless due to the floods while a lot more have been hit. According to Chief District Officer Krishna Bahadur Katuwal, 550 families were provided with beaten rice and other food items immediately after the disaster. "As the areas are submerged in water, it is difficult to take relief there. However, we have been trying to do our best. Providing drinking water, medicines and food is our priority for now," he stated.