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Official relief yet to reach Roanu victims

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Health Desk---24 May, 2016: Three days have elapsed since the devastating cyclone ‘Roanu’ wreaked massive havoc in eight coastal districts on Saturday, but official relief is yet to reach the marooned people although the administration has started the assessment of damage.

According to sources, the public representatives also have not stood beside the affected people who are crying for relief, especially safe water. The wounds left by the cyclone that killed 22 people and marooned 2.5 lakh, have started to surface fast. The devastated houses and roads as well as culverts collapsed under the pressure of tidal surge are causing sufferings to the people.

Several areas still remain disconnected. Crops and fish have been washed away as beribandhs (embankment) caved in during the storm. As their houses were destroyed or damaged, many marooned people are still passing days in the shelter of relatives. They are worried about possible extreme sufferings during the rainy days. At least 12 upazilas are still running without power as the electricity poles have been uprooted. 

Many families are facing severe financial losses as their fish farms have been washed away, crops submerged and shops destroyed.

It has been seen during visits to different areas of Patuakhali, Bhola, Noakhali, Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar that the affected people are more worried over the destruction of protection embankments and infrastructure, including roads than the damage to the households. They maintain that they would have no place to go if the embankments that protect their areas are imperilled.

The cyclonic storm ‘Roanu’ caused huge losses to human lives, properties, croplands and livestock due to breaching and overflow of the embankments in Chittagong.

As the storm hit the coasts, huge upsurge caused breaches in the embankments and overflowing water damaged wide areas along the coast rendering many homeless, who are still living miserable lives. 

According to an assessment of damage prepared by the Chittagong district administration till Sunday, a total of 12 people were killed in tidal upsurge, mudslide and fall of brick in the city and district during the cyclone.

Of the deceased, seven people, including four children, were killed in Banshkhali upazila while three in the city and two in Sitakunda upazila. 

A total of 10 upazilas in Chittagong district and 14 wards under Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) were affected as the storm hit.

According to information reaching the district administration till Sunday, a total of 46,658 houses were damaged rendering 483,086 people of 103,097 families homeless in the cyclonic storm in those areas.

A total of 2,695 acres of cropland were damaged in the water and raging wind of the storm. Some 40,630 domestic animals and poultry birds died in the disaster.

Twelve religious establishments, 34 educational institutions, 191 kilometres of road and 93 kilometres of embankment were damaged in the storm.

Banshkhali upazila suffered the worst damage where 22,000 houses under 14 unions were razed leaving some 250,000 people of 52,000 families affected. Some 1,350 acres of cropland, 70 kilometres of road and 22 kilometres of embankment were damaged in the upazila, said sources in the district administration.

Offshore Sandwip upazila also suffered damage badly in the storm as water entered into 15 unions breaching and overflowing some 11 kilometres of embankment.

The disaster damaged some 12,717 houses leaving 38,151 people of 12,717 families affected in the upazila.

Besides, some 35,000 people of 7,000 families were affected in the city where five kilometres of road and 43 kilometres of embankment were damaged at different points.

District administration distributed 198 metric tonnes of rice and Tk 770,000 in cash among the affected people till Sunday, said the sources.

Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya at a meeting of the disaster management committee at Chittagong DC Office on Sunday said courage shown by Chittagong people, government’s highest preparation and sincere effort by the government agencies helped keep the damage at the minimum.

The damage occurred due to breaching of the embankments. If the embankments could stand strong, lives, cropland, livestock and houses could be saved.

The minister said government will provide all-out support to the affected people and asked the concerned officials to keep the damage in mind to build and repair the embankments in future to avert any such incident.

Meanwhile, homeless people of the affected areas, mainly of Banshkhali and Sandwip upazilas, have been leading miserable lives in a waterlogged situation. 

Chittagong District Relief and Rehabilitation Officer (DRRO) Md Monirul Hoque said homeless people of the two upazilas are still living at the cyclone shelters as it is too tough for them to rebuild houses immediately.  

The disaster management minister visited Banshkhali and Anwara upazilas on Monday and assured the affected people of providing with tin sheets and money for constructing their houses.

“We are preparing a list of the affected people while initiative is being taken for immediate repair of the embankment which is still allowing tidal water in,” he said.

“The water started receding. People will be provided with food at the cyclone shelters until they leave them while allocations of money and rice for them are being increased gradually,” added the DRRO.