58-year-old Madhabi Ghosh wades through neck-deep water every time she has to fetch drinking water for herself or her husband. Just half-a-kilometre away from the main Bashirhat-Nezat Road, her house in Bengal’s Netaji Palli is submerged in water.
The devastating Cyclone Amphan has left her house broken, roof-less and devoid of walls to stop the water flowing from the nearby Bethani River which has been overflowing since the past five days.
Madhabi Ghosh explained her ordeal, “The area is completely flooded. The two of us are somehow passing each day. My husband has a physical handicap. He can’t walk properly. The loss is much more than [2009 Cyclone] Aila. Our girls are not being able to come to give us aid. They work in people’s houses and give us money. Neither are they able to work nor can they give us money due to the lockdown. We are in so much pain.”
“This cyclone was much more powerful than Aila. There is waterlogging everywhere. We can’t live without food. Even if we have dry food, we need to drink water. The government told us to go to the nearby school for shelter, but we couldn’t go…we are old people We are very troubled. I cry all day. The tarpaulin which we used to cover our roof is blown away,” she added.
In Sandeshkhali-1, a block in the North 24 Parganas district, many areas are still submerged in water.
All embankments have been destroyed due to Cyclone Amphan. As a result, the river water is flooding not just one village but the entire block.
The flooding has made it impossible for those living in one or two-storey homes to even step out.
HOUSE SUBMERGED, CHILDREN SENT ON BOATS
36-year-old Sulekha Ghosh carries a set of clothes from her house to the main road every day. She has to change her wet clothes as she sits on the roadside all day waiting for some relief in form of food and drinking water. Her house has been submerged and her seven-year-old child had to be taken in a boat to keep him safe from the neck-deep water.
As she does this every day, her pain is only deepening.
Sulekha told India Today TV,”Our houses are flooded with water. We know how to swim but the children don’t so we had to bring them on a local boat and I kept my clothes on it. If we carry the kids on our shoulder that too is also not possible as their safety is compromised. If anything happens to them, where will we take them? We do not have any money.”
She further explained how she took a locally-made boat just to relocate her children to a safer place. This is not the story of just one family but many such families across the West Bengal, which has been ravaged by the supercyclone Amphan.
Satarupa Karmakar, another villager said,”We got some rice yesterday. Other than that we couldn’t get anything. Yesterday they said that they will provide food at this time.”
It was after days of protest that they were given promised food by the district authorities.
She also shared her memories from Aila.
“My house is filled with waist-deep water. Outside there is neck-deep water. How will I carry my baby under such circumstances? My husband and I may swim through the waters but what happens to the baby? He’ll drown. We are required to come to the street to collect our food. We would not have gotten our food at all if we did not block the road yesterday in protest. We might survive without food, but the baby? Yesterday they gave us food. But today we haven’t been given any food to eat since morning. The chief member of the Panchayat came and asked us if we had got the food or not. We told him we haven’t. The house is all destroyed. My husband works as a driver. Due to the lockdown even that work has stopped. I saw Aila before my marriage and now this after marriage. This is much more destructive. We’ll stay here by the road with some tarpaulin that we have got.”
With the lockdown in place many are rendered without a job and people are struggling to get at least two square meals a day for survival. The extensive damage caused by the cyclone will surely take a good amount of time to normalize, till then, these sufferers wait with hope in their eyes.