Photos by: Bart Verweij, IFRC
It’s been two weeks since the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam collapsed sending floodwaters surging through south-eastern Laos. More than 13,000 people have been affected and 6,000 people are still staying in overcrowded evacuation centres relying on relief supplies from the government and organisations including Red Cross. Many of them have lost their homes, important documents, and even family members. Each of them has a story to tell.
This family came back to Thaoun village to check on their house and start the massive clean-up. The receding floodwaters are leaving behind thick, deep mud, mounds of debris and severely damaged houses. Luckily for this family, their water pump is still working; access to clean water for washing and drinking is one of the most urgent needs for people affected by the flash floods.
Teang and her family have already returned to their house in Yai Pheng village and have cleaned up everything inside. Now her greatest concern is food – the rice they still have is wet and therefore inedible. More than 80 tons of food is needed to feed people affected by the flooding and the vast majority of the land that was inundated by flooding is agricultural land, meaning people have lost their harvests and sources of food for this planting season.
Vison and his family share this room at the evacuation centre in Sanamxay with 14 other families. Their home is in Thahin village and they first ended up in the evacuation centre in Tha Bok before heading by tok-tok to the larger Sanamxay centre. With so many people needing emergency shelter, existing centres are overcrowded, offering little privacy or ventilation. Only six of the 13 shelter areas are accessible by road.
Chamsmai almost drowned when floodwaters rushed through her village but managed to save herself by clinging on to a tree until she could reach the shore. Now she and her daughter are staying in the largest of 13 evacuation centres in Sanamxay after moving from the smaller and less accessible Tha Bok camp. She still has a very sore throat due to all the dirt and water she swallowed while escaping the flooding.
Bouasar and her daughter are among more than 3,000 people taking shelter at the largest of the evacuation centres in Sanamxay district. Her husband and four other children also managed to escape with them; her grandfather was not so lucky and her grandmother is still missing.
Khamla’s wife Keo didn’t survive the flash floods and two of his children are still missing. He and his remaining daughter Yok are now staying at the evacuation centres in Sanamxay district.
Mamoui Santivong shows her registration card at the evacuation centre in Sanamxay district. The card details where she is staying and entitles her to receive food.
Phoungern is one of 200 Lao Red Cross volunteers who have been busy packing more than 2,000 relief bags for people affected by the flooding. The bags include clothes, canned food and hygiene items, wrapped with “love and heartfelt support” from their fellow Laotians. Phoungern became a volunteer in 2017 and since then has devoted at least a month of his time to support Lao Red Cross with its Youth in School Safety activities. “I admire how the local and international communities have been pouring their hearts into helping people [affected by the floods]. Why wouldn’t we do even just a little bit to help our neighbours too?” Photo: Hung Ha Nguyen/IFRC.
Lao Red Cross continues to provide people affected by the floods with relief items, clean water, and first aid services. IFRC has also opened a global appeal for 2.9 million Swiss Francs (2.9 million US dollars or 2.5 million Euros) to help the 7,500 people worst affected by the disaster over the coming 18 months.