Our village is now a river! Fulbari flood victims lament losses

As river banks eroded and floodwaters broke through the embankments, people scrambled to save their homes and belongings. Stories of losses now fill the air of the villages in Fulbari.

Abu Hossain, 60, said he was resting in his home at Chargorok Mondol village on Saturday afternoon when he heard a loud noise.

“I was feeling sleepy lying on my bed when I heard people screaming outside. I ran to the road beside the embankment and saw a deluge headed our way.

“I went back home. Then I heard that horrible noise. The torrent was tearing down trees and soon there was water everywhere. I saw the village mosque and my neighbour Abul Hossain’s home disappear into the water.”

A stream of the Dharala river had torn down the embankment at Gorokmondol.      

“I managed to move my family to safety. But we couldn’t save anything. The household I built for 40 years is gone. It’s gone away with water and mud,” the man said as he cried uncontrollably.

The others had similar stories. They had witnessed floods that submerged their village and crops, but losing entire homes was something new altogether.

The road connecting Fulbari to Kurigram was gone in a glance, said Abdul Khalek of Charboroloi village. “The huts of tin and thatch were simply crushed. Some don’t even have traces. Our village is now a river. We couldn’t save anything.”

“I didn’t expect the flood to be this bad. My home went under neck-deep water in just two minutes,” said Ishak Ali, a former union council member, who found shelter on an embankment at Prankrishna.

Aid did not come often, and when it did, the food provided is not enough to last more than a day, the people complained. Some tried to dry their rice grains whenever the sun peered through the clouds.               

“We are poor people. We won’t get help even if we die. The union’s chairman and members don’t look after us,” said an elderly ‘Sofur’.

Papers were seen floating in the floodwater submerging Prankrishna’s Kuthibari Modern High School. Moving further was difficult because most bridges and streets had been torn down by torrents of water.

“I was given 10 kilograms of rice to distribute to 40 flood victims. But who will I give this to? There are hundreds of people here! I am in trouble,” said Khoimuddin, a union council member at Barabhita.

At least 8,000 families in Barabhita union have suffered damages in the flood, said chairman Khaibar Ali.

“I have ten tonnes of rice. This is way below what is needed.” 

Fulbari Upazila Executive Officer Debendranath Urao said the floodwaters are starting to recede and people are returning to their homes.

“The Upazila administration has been running a kitchen for distributing Khichuri among flood victims. We will continue to provide them the food until situation returns to normal.”

So far over three million people have faced damage in 22 flood-stricken districts during the second flooding of the season starting July, according to the Department of Disaster Management.  

In April, swathes of farmland were destroyed in early flooding when embankments failed to protect wetlands in six districts of Sylhet.