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September 25, 2011

Family marooned in floodwater for eight days evacuated


Ag Afp
September 25, 2011

Shahnaz, a lady health visitor (LHV) in her 40s, was looking upset while being brought out with an eight-member family from her inundated house by a boat. She stayed marooned for eight days inside the flooded house in the affected Sanghar city, which was hit by floods after breaches in artificial drains.
Known among the neighbouring people as Dr Shahnaz, she was running her flourishing maternity home in the city’s neighbourhood. When the floodwater was flowing to the city - comprising a population of 150,000 - she was advised by relatives and family friends to leave her house but she took the floods easy and refused to leave.
The house is located in a low-lying neighbourhood, from where almost all other families had shifted to safer areas. Some of them hired vehicles to reach their relatives living in Karachi and other parts of the country. There was seven feet deep water in the low-lying parts of the city. Many houses collapsed completely. Items were flowing in the streaming water. When she was brought out with her family she was still looking in an unending shock.
“We never experienced such a horrible situation. We had got adequate food items and ration thinking it to be enough, but later we observed that everything was little. My young brother also provided some more rations a few days back when the water level was not so horrible like seeing presently. But after two days we observed that water we were receiving by taps was contaminated. There was smell all around. Living without electricity it seemed as if we were staying in the ghost villas,” she narrates the plight.
The larger family, including four males and four females, shifted minor children earlier to their relatives and stayed there, hoping they were safe. “After staying two nights in the inundated house, we feared to be robbed by criminals, because we saw some strange people wading through the floodwater at night time, taking the belongings from vacant houses. That was why we

were reluctant to leave. But when we saw the water level increasing there, and heard the noise of collapsing house walls one after the other all around, we decided to leave,” the LHV said. Later, one wall of their house also collapsed but the family was in fear that criminals may take away their belongings.
Some humanitarian organisations offered her to work with them in running health clinics to help the affected people but she herself was unable to run her maternity home.
The stranded family asked their relatives to do something. They approached the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) volunteers operating small fishing boats there to help, who evacuated the family, shifted to their relatives living in the safe area. Some of the family members have been shifted to Karachi to stay with their family friends and relatives.
Criminals are on the rampage, taking trucks at late night, break locks and sweep entire houses in the Sanghar city.
A large number of families have still been trapped in water five to six feet deep in the city, who despite facing inadequate food items and taking contaminated water, are reluctant to leave because of fear of criminals. All the markets either are inundated or the owners have shut their shops due to fear of the uncertain situation. This has put the residents in shock, thinking what to do.

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