By Raqibul Alam, Sajid Hasan and Ika Koeck, IFRC
Abdul Malek and his family narrowly escaped the flood with their lives, perched on a rooftop surrounded by rising waters.
For days, they took refuge on the roof of a primary school building in Jamalpur District, Bangladesh, surviving on just the food that they could carry with them before they fled.
“We have been living on this roof for several days, but after two days the food ran out, and we had nothing safe or clean to drink,” said Malek after Bangladesh Red Crescent Society rescue teams arrived to help them.
“When the Red Crescent came, they provided water, medicine and water pots. We cannot describe how grateful we are.”
Yet Malek’s troubles are far from over. The floods have washed away his crops and his only cow. Without any other source of income, he will not be able to feed his wife and children.
Despite surviving, Malek’s biggest fear is what will happen after the water recedes. He fears his children will be not be able to return to their damaged school for a long time.
“It is a blessing that the school building was not completely submerged. We would not have survived this flood otherwise,” he said.
More than 8.1 million people in Bangladesh share Malek’s strife in what is considered one of the worst floods the country has experienced. To date, 140 people have died and over 697,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed.
Not far from where Malek and his family took refuge, 28-year-old Monowara Begum and her young daughter, owe their lives to a small dry patch of land. It was the nearest high ground they could reach as the floodwaters surged through their village. Even though the water levels have receded enough for them to return to their ruined home, they have nothing to eat or drink.
“We went hungry for days,” Monowara said. “I did not know what to do, and where to go with my child. I even had to swim some distance from here to fetch fresh water. There was no one to help until the Red Crescent came.”
On 22 August 2017, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society in Jamalpur provided dry food to 2,000 people and tarpaulins to help with emergency shelter for 100 families. Since the onset of the flooding, volunteers and local branch teams have worked tirelessly to evacuate affected villagers. They have provided dry food and cooked meals to around 22,500 people in the affected districts.
Monowara said she was worried about she will cope after the flooding. Her house is badly damaged, and her animals that she relies on for food – cows, hens and ducks – are all gone.
There is no work immediately available either so her husband, a day labourer, will have difficulty earning an income. Monowara said all their time is focused on trying to find food, water and other things they need to survive.
While the dangerous floods have started to recede, many people are still in urgent need of food, access to clean water, sanitation facilities and support to rebuild or repair their homes.
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