1 June 2009

Coastal areas still bearing brunt of storm Aila

A FLOATING FAMILY: Trawler seems to be a permanent
abode for them as the coastal belt remains submerged following
storm Aila. They are unprotected as the breached embankment
was not repaired yet.


Coastal areas and other parts of the district lying in the country's south-western region is still bearing the brunt of devastating cyclone Aila that has swept most villages with tidal surges leaving the affected areas to still reel under water. Thousands of people were rendered homeless as the storm with 8 to 13 feet tidal surges hit the district on May 25, leaving a vast trail of wreckage, breaking flood protection embankments at 25 points and submerging at least 75 villages in the district. At least 78 unions under seven upzilas of the district were affected by the cyclone Aila. Of them, 10 unions are fully affected and 68 unions are partially affected. The worst-hit upazilas are Shyamnagar and Ashashuni. A large number of people are still marooned in the worst affected Gabura, Padmapukur, Burigoalini, and Munshiganj unions in Shyamnagar upazila and Protapnagar and Assasuni Sadar unions in Ashashuni upazilas. According to the District Relief Office (DRO), a total of 5,95,122 people were affected by the storm while 1,05,767 houses were damaged fully and 26,055 houses partially. Besides, crops on 828 hectares of land were damaged fully and 74 hectares partially, 142 educational institutes were damaged fully and 282 partially. 180 kms of roads were damaged fully and 99.75 kms partially, 41 bridges and culverts and 31 kms of embankments were fully damaged and 117 km damaged partially. According to the statistics, Aila also destroyed shrimp farms on 26,028 hectares of land. The cyclone that killed 59 people in the coastal belt forced 1,09,537 people to take shelter in 160 shelter centers. The cyclone-hit people have been facing severe water crisis as saline water entered the reservoirs of sweet water,, said Gabura union parishad chairman Shafiul Azam Lenin. As the people are compelled to drink this contaminated water, various water borne disease are breaking out in the area, he added. Soon after the attack of Aila, the government started relief operation with distribution of rice in the affected areas. Peoples' sufferings are still there as they can not cook food for lack of high lands and fuel, local people said. Relief distribution is going in full swing in the affected areas as Army, Navy, Coast Guards and BDR in cooperation with the civil administration are jointly conducting its operation in the cyclone hit Shymnagar and Assasuni upazilas of the district. Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Satkhira Md Abdus Samad told BSS that a total of 41 medical teams are working in the affected areas, providing round-the-clock medical service with sufficient medicines to the distressed people. "We are taking emergency measures to combat spread of diarrhea and other water borne diseases", he added. Samad also said that the government id doing its best to mitigate the sufferings of the cyclone-affected people of Shyamnagar and Assassuni upazilas. "Necessary steps would be taken to repair the embankments, damaged by the cyclone," he said. The Deputy Commissioner also said that the local people in several affected areas have already started repairing damaged embankment on their own while and some of them have started returning home. A total of 1207 tonnes of rice, Taka 11,67,000, 550 pieces of sarees, 4.58 tonnes of Chira, 2.04 tonnes of molasses, 12,000 candles, 12,000 orsalaine and 12,000 match boxes were already distributed among the affected peoples so far. Besides, huge amount of drinking water was taken to the affected areas from Satkhira town. Besides the government, the Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) are also distributing relief materials in the affected areas. Earlier, Minister for Food, Relief and Disaster Management Dr Abdur Razzak, Minister for Health and Family Dr AFM Ruhul Haque, State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian, Khulna City, Talukdar Abdul Khalek and Army Chief General Moeen-U-Ahmed visited the affected areas and distributed relief materials among the storm victims.