By: Aatif Ismail & Aftab Zahoor
MULTAN, Sep 10 (APP):Tears welled unrestrained when Khairan Mai, a woman ensnared by destitution, witnessed her solitary mud room home crumbling beneath the relentless onslaught of ferocious floods in the Sutlej River.
A resident of Old Saldaira Village in district Vehari, Khaira Mai had constructed a mud home after an incessant struggle of many years where she was residing with her two children and a differently-abled husband. She had to leave her home after warnings of floodwater.
Within the humble confines of the dwelling were two cots (Charpai), a modest array of clothes, and essential utensils of their kitchen.
The merciless surge of the River Sutlej forced her and her family to abandon their home. Upon her temporary revisit to check the condition of her home, Khairan Mai’s world shattered as she gazed upon the complete collapse of her abode.
“I am in extreme pain,” she sobbed overwhelmed by grief as her tears flowed down her cheeks unabated. “I do not know what would happen in the future. How shall I rebuild my home.”
Khairan Mai, however, felt some relief when a local landlord and philanthropist stepped in and promised to rebuild her shattered home after the situation turned out to be normal. The pledge made by local landlord Sajjad Saldaira raised a new hope in her life amidst the pains of devastation.
A resident of district Vehari, Sajjad Saldaira revealed about floodwater stretching up to 20 kilometers from the riverbanks, engulfing hundreds of villages and causing extensive damage to infrastructure.
“The situation is painful whenever flood hits localities sweeping valuables of poor people and leaving thousands homeless,” stated Sajjad who himself weathered the flood’s impact on his own house and farmland.
“For me, although I can endure these losses what to do of vulnerable families contending this insurmountable challenge.”
Sajjad said, “My heart aches for the poor families who are under immense stress.”
Sajjad’s compassion extended to contributions for several families as he underscored the urgent need for broader assistance in flood-ravaged areas.
“I praise the commendable efforts of Rescue 1122, especially the dedication of young rescuers who’ve earned respect and gratitude of the affected communities”, Sajjad said.
Similar tales of courage and compassion abound in the flood-hit regions, where communities would be grappling to cover up financial losses in the aftermath of disaster.
One such story is that of Kali Sheikh, a determined young man who turned to selling his domestically brought chickens to meet the needs of his family.
However, Nature intervened in the form of another philanthropist Qasim Saldaira, whose promise turned Kali’s despair into hope.
Qasim extended donations and managed eatables for the poor family.
These are just the isolated instances as the recent flood had left behind countless heart-wrenching stories with most families expressing fears of their upcoming financial hardships.
Local people, administration, and rescue departments swiftly moved to secure people soon after the flood warning was issued. Despite individual efforts by the local people, a planned operation was executed by Rescue 1122 to evacuate people to safe places.
“As many as 278,271 individuals have been safely evacuated using 417 boats, along with the relocation of 17,073 animals to safer grounds till August 31,” informed Farooq Ahmed, spokesperson for Rescue 1122 (Punjab).
Sharing statistics about rescue operations in flood-hit regions, Farooq revealed that the ongoing operation of Rescue 1122, with its dedicated team of 1,638 rescuers, spanned over Kasur, Okara, Pakpattan, Vehari districts and beyond.
He also mentioned to challenges confronting the rescue teams in the wake of this calamity as well as the general tendencies of the rural people.
“It was not the flood alone but also the unwillingness of the people to abandon their homes due to precious belongings,” he informed. “But, we managed to evacuate them as human lives were more precious to us than the belongings.”
“Finally, we succeeded in persuading them although amidst their feeling of despair and hopes for rehabilitation of their houses,” Farooq said.
“The situation posed multiple risks to affected people as well as rescuers but we did our best.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Director Information Vehari, Majid Naqvi informed that the administration had established tent villages to provide shelter for flood-affected.
He said these tents were endowed with essential facilities as the district administration was utilizing all available resources to extend maximum relief to those impacted by flood.
Besides philanthropists, some local politicians were also lending a hand in relief activities for affected people, especially Jehangir Tareen of Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party.
“We are standing beside our people in this hour of turmoil and make every possible effort for their rehabilitation,” Tareen stated, addressing the affected people in his Lodhran district.
As the people bear the pains of losing their homes and valuables, it is the duty of state departments and the local influential to come forward for their respite and rehabilitation to return them to a settled life.