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Post-flood trauma still lingers in Pak

The floodwaters that ravaged this northwestern town a year ago have long receded. Gone, too, are the makeshift tent camps on roadsides. But as a new monsoon season starts, last year's trauma and economic pain still linger, and the flood's consequences are likely to be felt for some time to come.

world Updated: Aug 01, 2011 00:57 IST

The floodwaters that ravaged this northwestern town a year ago have long receded. Gone, too, are the makeshift tent camps on roadsides. But as a new monsoon season starts, last year's trauma and economic pain still linger, and the flood's consequences are likely to be felt for some time to come.

The devastation caused by the worst floods in Pakistan's history was easy enough to quantify: almost 2,000 deaths, nearly 20 million displaced or similarly affected and one-fifth of the country under water. One year later, the picture is murkier. Estimates are hazy over how many flood refugees returned home and in what conditions. Many roads, levees and houses have been rebuilt, but authorities acknowledge that much remains to be done. Residents say underground water has been contaminated and is not safe to drink. Lost possessions have been replaced at higher costs or not at all, and aid money from the government has been unevenly distributed.

Mamreez Khan said floodwaters filled his house completely before the roof eventually collapsed. He lost most of what was inside and now lives in a small room while his children were sent away to stay with relatives. A labourer by day, he uses his free time to rebuild his house brick by brick, but the work is progressing slowly, and for the most part the house remains a roofless ruin.

"Relatives and friends help us, but it is very difficult to rebuild our life," Khan said.

The UN called for donations amounting to $2 billion but was able to collect two-thirds of that sum. Thanks in large part to rescue efforts by charity groups, the Pakistani army and the US military, larger losses of life were averted. Feared epidemics also failed to materialise. But it is also Pakistanis' resilience and support networks that mitigated the hardships.

(In exclusive partnership with The Washington Post)