The massive flood that started on 22 of December will be forever
etched in my mind. The floods destroyed and
caused heavy damage to 700 homes and displaced 90,000 people in my village. With
the area having only a population of 25,000, it was a significant number of
flood victims. The immediate problems that had to be addressed were water,
sanitation and health issues. As many of the district health centers had been
destroyed or damaged, water-purification tablets and water tanks were urgently
needed. Various humanitarian bodies distributed anti-malaria medication and
insecticide-treated bed nets.
Although these were essential in maintaining the
general health of the victims, the grief openly displayed in their faces was
more worrisome. Some just did not want to be consoled or even counseled. The
loss of loved ones, babies, husbands and siblings snatched by the fury of the
rising waters were too difficult to even consider. As food supplies
trickled in, victims stampeded the
volunteers. Brute force was needed to keep the desperate at bay in order to give
every victim the opportunity to receive the required aid. Relief efforts were
also hampered due to the lack of communication and greed of some profiteers.
Their greed in times of distress sickened me to the core.
The flood had been traumatic for many children. They felt isolated because of
the deep mud left by the floods. Many were not able to leave their homes, play
outside or go to school. Their usually cheerful faces were replaced with forlorn
faces that had not quite grasped the extent of the devastation. Many others were
also traumatized by the water, refusing to leave their homes. I had to beg and
cajole to get them to leave their mud-caked
huts to join us in the sampans that would carry them to relief centers.
I am grateful that I survived the flood without losing any of my family
members. We lost our home and belongings, but nothing can replace the life of a
loved one. This traumatic experience taught me many things. Among the most
important were to cherish my family and to be strong in all adversity.