National

Overcast skies and rains make Tarai windstorm survivors wary

  • Weather office predicts rainfall with thunderstorm and gusty winds
- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

Apr 7, 2019-

With pre-monsoon getting active and chances of rainfall accompanied by thunderstorm and gusty wind on the forecast, survivors of last week’s windstorm in Bara and Parsa are bracing for more difficult times as they struggle to pick up the pieces.

The windstorm on the night of March 31 claimed at least 28 lives and injured hundreds.

The unexpected windstorm battered parts of 10 rural municipalities and municipalities in the two districts, damaging 1,895 houses. Survivors are now living in flimsy shelters.

“It was cloudy since morning. There was a light drizzle as well in the afternoon,” Dev Narayan Yadav, a resident of Barbaliya in Pheta, a village in Bara district that was affected the most by the windstorm, told the Post over the phone. If it rains it will be difficult for us to stay dry and safe.”

Most of the families in the villages have no option but to squeeze inside the small tents that have been distributed to them.

“Male members of the family are sleeping under the sky. If the weather worsens, I don’t know where to go,” added Yadav, whose house was destroyed in the deadly storm..

Yadav said his family of seven is having a tough time accommodating in the small tent.

According to the Meteorological Forecasting Division, the weather forecasting authority in the country, the forecast for Saturday night was mostly cloudy throughout the country. “Thunderstorm cells are forming in those areas, increasing the possibility of strong wind till night on Saturday,” said Min Kumar Aryal, a meteorologist with the forecasting division.

Last week’s windstorm, the strongest ever recorded in the country, had laid bare Nepal’s poor early warning system and zero preparedness.

For those affected by the windstorm—and for the authorities as well—it is a race against time, as in about two months monsoon will arrive in the country.

Though the government has decided to deploy the Army to build houses for windstorm survivors in Bara and Parsa before the onset of monsoon, the current weather system has left them worried.

“It’s hot in the afternoon. But when the dark cloud looms, I am scared. What if a similar strong wind comes and blows everything away again?” said Munerai Devi, also from Pheta, who lost her eight-room house to the devastating windstorm. “All I have now is one tent. I don’t know whether we should sleep inside or keep our goods there,” she told the Post.

Immediately after the disaster, government and non-government agencies and groups of individuals have been actively working to ensure enough relief materials—food, utensils, clothes and medical kits among others—for the survivors. But their most pressing need is shelter.

Raunak Sarraf, head of programmes with Sano Paila, a local non-governmental organisation, told the Post that the authorities concerned have failed to pay attention to the approaching inclement weather which could create more problems for the survivors.

“There is risk of diseases outbreak because of poor sanitation in the area. People are openly defecating as toilets were destroyed. Most of them are still surviving on packaged food,” said Sarraf. “Most importantly, preparedness for the approaching rain is zero. A temporary tent cannot protect them if the weather turns nasty.”  

The weather office has forecast cloudy weather throughout the country and chances of rainfall in a few places of eastern and central parts of the country on Sunday afternoon.

A few places in eastern Nepal will see rainfall with thunderstorm and few places in western and central Tarai will witness windstrom on Sunday night, the weather office said in a bulletin on Saturday evening.

Survivors said life was gradually returning to normalcy after last week’s disaster but Saturday’s freak weather have frightened them.

“Gust of wind and rainfall make us wary. If it rains heavily, there will be waterlogging in the villages,” said Birbal Patel, 19, a resident of Barbaliya.

Published: 07-04-2019 07:41

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