Over half a million people have been left homeless after rushing floodwaters devastated villages in rural areas of northern Bangladesh over the weekend.
Bangladesh is a low lying country that has densely populated rural areas. Heavy monsoon rains have caused flash floods for over a week now but a new weather front caused unaffected areas to be flooded over the past few days. According to government officials in Bangladesh, no one has died in the flooding so far.
Weather specialists at the Dhaka Flood Forecasting and Warning Center explained how two of the main rivers in Bangladesh, the Brahmaputra and Meghna, have continued to rise higher than expected, causing residents of 14 districts scrambling to find higher ground.
Sazzad Hossain, an engineer at the warning center said that heavy rains in India are causing the main rivers to continue to rise. He went on to add that he suspected the flooding to get much worse over the next few days. The government has already made plans to distribute food and water to displaced people according to Iftekharul Islam, the director of the Department of Disaster Management. Islam assured residents that schools and other government buildings are being used as temporary shelters and that all districts were prepared for such a disaster and have enough emergency supplies to go around.
Several American charities working in the flooded areas reported that many households have no access to clean water and have lost their entire crop of rice, the main source of food and income for people living in the northern area of Bangladesh.
Farmers are scrambling to find ways to provide for their families. Shahin Howlader, a farmer from the Rangpur district who was seeking shelter in a neighborhood school, was devastated with the loss of his home and rice fields. He also lost several cows and was worried about how he would be able to feed his family for the rest of the year.
The monsoon season is a regular occurrence in Bangladesh and floods and landslides are common, especially in the northern part of the country. Melting snow from the Himalayas already swell the countries river, so when monsoons hit it can be a catastrophic combination. Hundreds of thousands of people have died from rushing flood waters and other weather disasters since 1971. Disaster response experts have praised Bangladesh over the past few years for their disaster preparedness, and deaths caused by these inclement weather events have declined significantly since 2005.