The Financial Express

Preparing for flash floods  

| Updated: July 13, 2021 21:51:28

Preparing for flash floods   

When the Covid-19 outbreak has almost started wreaking havoc on the country, with a lockdown in force, any distant allusion to floods makes people feel worried. When bad times hit a nation, they often emerge collectively, some in distressing forms. Due to the season being monsoon, excessive rain-fed flash floods cannot be termed unusual. In Bangladesh, it is a yearly natural phenomenon. But against the backdrop of the ongoing corona outbreak, any sign of the rivers' swelling and submersion of their banks makes people panicky. Although most of the country's rivers are still flowing below the danger mark, a few in the northern region appear to be showing signs which could be interpreted as worrisome. Thoughts wouldn't have turned this grim hadn't a vast upper riparian swath in India's north witnessed heavy rainfall for nearly a week. The possibility of flash floods, thus, cannot be ruled out.

According to India's meteorological department, the vast area stretching from Sikkim, West Bengal's north to Assam is feared to experience heavy rainfall for a few days soon. The authorities concerned have already released a weather alert in the areas mentioned. Thus, the spectre of flash floods downstream looms; and it calls for an all-out preparedness. For Bangladesh, the timing of this much-feared seasonal disruption couldn't have been worse. For the country has already been hurt by an unabatedly worsening virus-borne disaster. Another calamity of flash flooding at this time means further increase in the national woes. The worried segments of the people must be looking forward to bulletins the government circulates on monitoring the developments so that they can prepare for the unexpected calamity.

Any prolonged bout of normal rain in the country or India's northern region leads to the swelling of rivers in the lower riparian Bangladesh. More often than not, this spell of rain leads to the flooding of the large segments of northern, northeastern and central Bangladesh. Inundation of low-lying areas including human habitats and croplands is a common feature. These almost yearly deluges have been impacting on the lower riparian land since time immemorial. But the flash floods behave differently. They occur during the season of active monsoon, in particular. With low-stream rivers sourced in upper riparian India, Bangladesh has been destined to bear the brunt of waters cascading down.

Already nonstop erosion of river banks has begun posing existential threats to hundreds of villages and towns in Bangladesh. The northern region's rivers, Dharla, Teesta, Dudhkumar, Brahmaputra and Jamuna have already demonstrated their terrible power of causing erosions. Hundreds of villages across the country are still bracing for worse turns of this malady. With houses and other establishments and croplands on river banks on the brink of being devoured by rivers, flash floods emerge as yet another scourge. Many roads, bridges and embankments have already been rendered dysfunctional causing great disruptions to communication. The flooding of these erosion-hit areas may now invite the proverbial double whammy in parts of Bangladesh. What this hazardous situation may lead to is understandable. The relevant authorities, those in charge of the ongoing pandemic and disaster management in particular, cannot allow the adverse times to bewilder them. The nation is going through a crisis, like many others across the globe. Lots of countries have kept fighting on different fronts besides that of the pandemic. There is little reason why Bangladesh cannot do the same based on her intrinsic resilience and undaunted staying power.

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