RAUTAHAT, August 21: Shiva Dayal Sah, 60, of Dohartol panics whenever clouds gather in the sky. He has withstood flood several times in his life. However, the recent one, the one that swept across most the Tarai region last Saturday, was the most devastating, he says. “As soon as there is a black cloud in the sky I feel like fleeing from here. I get very restless,” he said. “I fear if I could save my life again if my house is flooded again,” he added.
In the aftermath of the recent floods, when the nearby Bakaiya River started wreaking havoc in his settlement, Sah was simply helpless. After fleeing to a safer zone, he witnessed the whole devastation. Just before his eyes, belongings were washed away, weak houses were destroyed and the whole of the landscape was flooded. His own house was badly damaged.
Jayanarayan Raya Yadav also gets terrified at the word- rain. His only wish, for now, s moderate rain throughout the monsoon. “Monsoon is yet to stay. If it rains heavily, we will be hit very hard again,” he said.
After being displaced, both Yadav and Sah have been living under a tent at the riverside. They are sharing space with their cattle. Buffalos and goats and those men sit close, day and night. “There is no other way. We have no option,” Sah says.
The duo represents a sorry state of hundreds of flood displaced in Rautahat. They feel the two big rivers in the district, Bagmati, and Bakaya, ferocious. They fear that if the rivers flood again, they will be displaced once more.
“We have been living near the river as we did not find any place better. But the level of water in the river is still scary. We feel nervous at its mere sight,” he said. “We all are under such risk in Sarlahi and Rautahat,” he added.
Mahinathpur, Balara, Sisaut, Khairaba, Dhurba, Manpur, Sudama, Hathiaul, and Chhatauna, among other villages are at high risk of flood. Similarly, Laxmanpur, Samanpur, Gamriya, Baluwa, Madanpur, Dharmapur, Pakaha, Singaraman, Gadho, Pipara, Bhalohiya, Matsari, Badharwa, Basantpur, Bhramapuri, Rajdevi, Bebichhawa and the district headquarters Gaur are at risk of floods.
The settlements are under flood risk as embankments along the bank of the rivers were badly damaged on Saturday.
“The embankments are damaged very badly. They cannot save us from flood and because of that we know that floods can reenter our area very easily,” he added.
Locals state that over dozens of villages in their vicinity are under very high risk of flood. Over 100 died and many got injured in the flood a week ago. Thousands of people have been rendered homeless.
According to Raj Kumar Sriwastav, Chief of Water Induced Natural Disaster, Bara, some settlements in the four districts are under high risk of flood. “We need to be alert. Embankments along the banks of Bagmati and Bakaya rivers have been severely damaged. We have already sent reports to the center regarding this,” he said.
He added that the department has identified areas where the embankments have been affected the most and informed that they would repaired as soon as signal is given from the center. “We have submitted field assessment report of the embankments. We are waiting for the permission to go ahead with the repairs,” he said.
Diseases spreading flood hit zones
The lack of sanitation and other hygienic measures in the flood-affected areas have started taking toll on the health of the flood victims. Symptoms like swelling and irritation of skin, cold and fever have been noticed among some of the flood victims. If not addressed on time, these could spread, locals feel.
According to Pramod Gupta of Khesariya Health Post, over 400 people have already visited the health post with the aforementioned health problems. “They have skin related problems. And some people are also suffering from diarrhea, dysentery, fever, cold, cough and so on,” he added.
He added that the patients that most of the victims from Dewahi, Badharwa, Gamhariya, Belbichhuwa and Karuniya, among other areas, reported of such ailments. He warned that because of the filth accumulated by the floods, possibility of an epidemic outbreak is very high.
In a health camp at Dewahi Gonahi Municipality, around 1,000 people received health checkup recently. According to Gupta, children were found commonly affected by several diseases.
Relief being supplied
After the one door distribution policy was avoided, relief distribution has been massive and smooth. Among others, comedian couple Suntali and Dhurmus has also helped a great deal, locals say.
Flood victims are getting essential items like cloths, food packs and blankets. However, relief is still more limited to ‘easy areas’ than where roads are damaged, they lament. Flood has badly damaged roads in Tarai.