By: Aatif Ismail
MULTAN, Sep 3 (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 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 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 turns to be normal. The pledge made by local landlord Sajjad Saldaira, raised a new hope into 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 but 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 the 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 up brought chickens to meet the needs of his family.
However, the 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 of families expressing fears of their upcoming financial hardships.
Local people, administration and rescue department 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 then the belongings.”
“Finally, we succeeded to persuade 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.
Jehangir Tareen of the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party was the one among them rising to the occasion and actively engaging with the flood-hit people, offering machinery for temporary embankments to safeguard settlements.
“I and my family shall be standing beside you in this hour of turmoil and make every possible effort for your rehabilitation,” he said addressing the affected people in Lodhran district as he manifested his commitment to serve the people beyond political affiliations.
As the people bear the pains of losing their homes and valuables, it is obligatory for state departments as well as local influential to come forward for the respite of affected people and help them build their homes and re-settle to lead a normal life.