The fate of about 46,000 people remains uncertain ahead of Cyclone Amphan as there are no cyclone shelters in several parts of Bhola and Patuakhali – especially in the char areas.
Apprehension has gripped residents of Dhalchar, Char Patila and Char Nizam of Charfassion upazila, Kalatali of Manpura upazila, and Chandra Dweep Union of Bauphal upazila in Patuakhali district – as they do not know where they will go once the cyclonic storm hits Bangladesh.
It is not only the local people who are in danger. There are no safe houses for livestock and no canals where boats can be safely stored.
Dhalchar union has a population of about 10,000. Char Patila, a part of Char Kukri Mukri union, and Kalatali union, have a population of about 8,000, each, and Chandra Dweep has a population of 20,000.
Razzak Choukidar, a resident of Chandra Dweep Union told The Business Standard, "We have nothing to do but fear every time a cyclone hits Chandra Dweep."
"We experienced Cyclone Sidr. That was a deadly one. We did not think that we would survive it," he said.
"We have been taking shelter on higher ground. Some people are taking shelter in the forests but the animals cannot go anywhere. They are badly affected," he added.
Md Salam, a member of Chandra Dweep union parishad, said, they have no way to prepare to send the people to the shelter centres.
"We have a cyclone shelter but it is unusable. The people will face severe problems if Cyclone Amphan hits here," he said.
"Even though we survive every cyclone, it becomes difficult for us to start earning for our livelihoods again," he added.
Razzak Mia, a resident of Char Patila, said, "There is no cyclone shelter in our union. Every time we survive a cyclone, we feel that we are reborn because we already anticipated that this would be our last few moments as we do not have a shelter. The Almighty saves us every time."
"We have heard that the cyclone may hit here with incredible strength. We will die if the cyclone hits our land. We are just waiting for death," he said.
Hashem Mohajon, chairman of Char Kukri Mukri union, told The Business Standard, "The people of Char Patila are really helpless now. There used to be a building which could contain 200 people."
Kalam Mollah, a resident of Char Nizam, said, "We are in fear. We can do nothing now as there is no cyclone shelter. Children and women are crying, but we cannot do anything for them. All we can do is wait and see if we survive this time or not."
Salam Hawlader, chairman of Dhalchar union, said, "We are trying to take the people to the mainland as there are no cyclone shelters in this union. The fate of local people plunges into uncertainty every time a storm hits the coastal areas."
Alkas Mollah, chairman of Chandra Dweep union parishad said, "Sidr killed 43 people and injured many others in this union. The people usually take shelter in schools and there is no cyclone shelter in this union."
"I cannot express the gravity of the situation people in my union face every time a storm hits. All they can do is wait for the storms to wreak havoc on their lives. They face huge financial losses during the disaster," Alkas said.
Masud Alam Siddique, deputy commissioner of Bhola, told The Business Standard that they took 5,000 people to the mainland from Dhalchar union. He added that they will transport the rest of the 5,000 tomorrow morning.
Jakir Hossain, upazila nirbahi officer of Bauphal upazila, told The Business Standard that they prepared five school buildings for the people so that they can take shelter.
"We are trying our level best to save the people," he said.