The coastal people of Satkhira are struggling to survive after the super cyclonic storm Amphan left the region devastated.
Amphan has washed away the joy of Eid from the coast, which is already being threatened by the coronavirus outbreak. The storm has left thousands of people marooned in waterlogged areas caused by damaged embankments.
More than two hundred residents of Protapnagar, a union along the Kopotakkho River under Assasuni upazila, are now living on the Shuvodakati embankment in makeshift tents after water broke through the embankment along the river and inundated the region.
Forty-five-year-old Monjuara Begum used to live alone in a dilapidated shanty in Suvdrakati. Her husband Julfiqer Ali went missing a time long ago. Monjuara is now living in a makeshift tent on the embankment after the cyclone washed away her shanty.
Monjuara said she did not receive any relief from the government as yet and complained that no member or chairman has looked out for them.
"Nobody even asks how I am surviving," lamented Monjuara.
Khokon Sarder, another resident of Suvdrakati, said he was also living on the embankment as the cyclonic storm Amphan ravaged his house.
He added that the entire area was flooded when the embankment in the Chakla area along the Kopotakkho river broke down.
"There is no way to repair the house as water level reaching above the waist has washed it away. I am barely surviving on the dam, living on the brink of starvation. I did not get anyone's support so far," said Khokon.
Md Idris Ali, a lecturer at the Satkhira Government College said, "The people of Protapnagar grew up struggling with the nature. They have faced such situation many times. The people of these coastal areas got a fresh start after overcoming the losses of Cyclone Aila that hit the country in 2009.
"Just as the socio-economic conditions began to improve in the region, Amphan struck and destroyed everything. The people of this area have been sent back 10 years because of the disaster."
Idris Ali further said river erosion is not a new phenomenon for the coastal people, and they have dealt with the issue during natural disasters such as Aila and Sidr.
"But sadly, when extreme disasters occur, senior authorities visit us by helicopter or trawler to catch a glimpse. But after that no one takes any action. No steps have been taken to build sustainable embankments. However, I have personally raised money in various ways and given food items to 650 families," he added.
Protapnagar Union Parishad chairman Zakir Hossain said, "All 18 villages in the union have been flooded and around 36,000 people are marooned. The embankment broke at eight points along the union's coast, which is yet to be repaired. However, the villagers are taking the initiative to repair it on their own volition.
"Seventy percent of the non-concrete houses in the union have been destroyed. After the storm, I have received eight tonnes of rice so far. Which is quite insignificant compared to the demand."
He continued, "The amount of government assistance received so far has been distributed among the villagers. Some may not have received it as yet. The allocation is insufficient. Tomorrow (Monday) is Eid, but there is no joy in anyone's mind.
"The joy of Eid has been washed away by Amphan. Now, this is just a fight for survival."
Assasuni Upazila Nirbahi Officer Mir Alif Reza said, "Around 60,000 people from 11,000 families in 42 villages of Protapnagar, Sriula and Assasuni Sadar unions of the upazila are waterlogged. The embankment has broken at 26 points along the coast.
"The repair has not started yet. The water in the area is increasing with the tide in the river. After Amphan struck, 30 tonnes of rice, 350 packets of dry food, Tk320,000 in cash, Tk30,000 worth of baby food and 500 packets of powdered milk have been allocated to help the affected people. We have already distributed them."
Reza added, "Besides, on the occasion of Eid, the deputy commissioner has allocated one kg of beef or chicken, polao rice, vermicelli and other essentials for the waterlogged people of Assasuni Sadar and Sriula areas.
"We will deliver them tonight (Sunday night). Ten kg of rice has already been provided to others."