CRS Pakistan Teams Brave Floodwaters to Reach Survivors

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Over the past few days, Catholic Relief Services teams have hiked through mudslide areas, coping with broken bridges and submerged roads, to reach survivors of massive floods in northern Pakistan. Mr. Said Mehmood, Senior Field Engineer for CRS in the Pakistani town of Besham, reports from the field:

Heavy flooding in Nowshera, Pakistan

A man evacuates his children through waist-deep waters after heavy flooding in Nowshera, located in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Photo by Adrees Latif

“We faced the first mudslide which blocked the road just 2 miles from the CRS office. After this we started our journey to Dubair on foot. On the way we passed 6 big landslides and many small ones. The local community made a temporary bridge from electrical utility poles which is only for walking, not cars.

“During our travel we also observed many people coming toward Besham from different affected areas of Kohistan. These peoples are continuously traveling for 8 to 10 hours for food and other items from Besham market. They are coming through very dangerous and irregular hilly areas.

“We reached the Dubair bazaar by crossing a huge slide with a huge deep gully. When we reached Dubair market, we were very surprised to see that a 70-foot-deep stream had washed away houses and shops. We were grieved that we could not see the plot of land where we had planned a new CRS school. All the building material and the plot of land was washed away—the flood threw all of it into the Indus River.

“Most of the community members told us, ‘The flood has taken away each and every thing from us. We lost our houses, property, our shops, livestock and timber. We can’t reach to other areas due to paved roads being gone and bridges being completely damaged. We have a shortage of food items and in coming days our food will be completely finished. We don’t have shelter to stay for the night and some of us are living with relatives. Some are living in the open places. We don’t have clean drinking water, shelters or tents.’

Pakistan Flooding

A highway in Pakistan is overcome by flooding. Photo by CRS Staff

“Communities are asking for shelter for families who lost their houses, for food, and for rope trolleys.”

CRS is organizing shipments of humanitarian aid to Balochistan, the area hit earliest by flooding. The aid packages will include water purification tablets, soap, cookware, buckets, and more. In the areas of Kohistan and Shangla, CRS is planning to provide similar aid, along with emergency shelter and water/sanitation services. In Swat, CRS is planning cash-for-work projects to rebuild essential infrastructure for agriculture.

Read about a CRS worker losing his house and land to the flooding in Pakistan.

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