Slowly but steadily, Sylhet flooding begins to improve

Sylhet residents, struggling with the worst flooding in a decade and a half, may get some respite in a day or two as the water level has begun going down, according to a government agency which monitors flood situations.

Senior Correspondentand Sylhet
Published : 20 May 2022, 11:19 AM
Updated : 20 May 2022, 08:30 PM

Heavy rains and the onrush from upstream had triggered floods that have damaged homes in several parts of the district and intensified food and drinking water crises, according to residents.

Md Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, executive engineer at the Flood Forecasting and Warning

Centre, or FFWC, told they are already seeing signs of improvements.

“Flood situation won’t worsen. Water levels are going down, the situation will be normal in a day or two,” he said.

t least 13 Upazilas have been flooded, forcing the authorities to open 326 shelters across the district. As many as 7,349 people have taken refuge in 95 centres.

Md Arifuzzaman, however, had said the flooding may worsen in the low-lying areas of Sunamganj in the next few days.

Locals who have taken refuge in shelters said they have been facing a severe food and drinking water crisis as tubewells were flooded underwater and a three-day power cut disrupted the supply.

Ramzan Ali, a sexagenarian resident of Alirgoan village in Sylhet’s Gowainghat Upazila, said he had last seen such heavy flooding in 2004 and expressed concern that the flood situation might be even worse this year.

“They are all living through power outages,” Ramzan added.

Dr AKM Saiful Islam, a professor at BUET’s Institute of Water and Flood Management, said though the Sylhet region is known for heavy rains, the amount of rain the region had experienced in the last five days is extraordinary.

“Such weather phenomenon may become a recurring event,” he said.

After losing her house to floods, Rashida Begum, a resident of a slum in Companiganj Upazila, moved to her brother-in-law’s house, which is also vulnerable to floods.

“I’m afraid to sleep as snakes enter the house at night. I don’t have enough food for four children,” she said.

“Floods have damaged everything I had. Now I’m fighting hunger after moving to the shelter as the food provided by the authorities isn’t enough,” said Rumina Akter, an elderly woman who has taken refuge at Thanabazar. Her house, built under the government housing project in Companiganj Upazila’s Kathalbari is deluged now.

A sudden onrush of mountain runoff from upstream has affected most of the areas close to the border, causing immense sufferings to residents of the Companiganj, Gowainghat, Jointiapur, Zakiganj and Kanaighat Upazilas.

Floods have also damaged the transport system in those areas, forcing the authorities to close educational institutions.

“Schools were closed for almost two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve been closed again by the floods,” said Abdul Karim, a resident of Kanaighat Upazila’s Laxmi Prasad Union.

Floodwaters deluged parts of Sylhet after the breaching of 34 dams on the Surma and Kushiyara rivers, said Niloy Pasa, an assistant engineer at the Bangladesh Water Development Board.

After Sadar, Dakshin Surma, Companiganj, Gowainghat, Jointiapur, Zakiganj, Kanaighat and Fenchuganj Upazilas, floodwaters submerged parts of Beanibazar and Golapganj Upazilas.

“The Companiganj, Gowainghat and Kanaighat Upazila complexes have been flooded. Many shelters in those Upazilas have also been affected,” Niloy said.

The water level at the Kanaighat, Sylhet and Sunamganj points of the Surma River was flowing 98 cm, 38 cm and 16 cm above the danger level, respectively, at 9 am on Friday.

In addition to Surma and Kushiyara, the water levels in the major rivers of the Upper Meghna Basin in the northeast of the country are rising and the surge will continue for 24 hours, according to the Flood Forecast and Warning Centre.

The water level of rivers in Sunamganj, Netrokona and Habiganj could flow above the danger level in the next 24 hours.

The authorities have distributed Tk 1.3 million, 234 tonnes of rice and 3,099 packets of dry food among the local people marooned by the floods, the district’s local government official Md Mozibor Rahman said.