While 6 to 8 feet of water submerges homes in Orissa province in India, floodwaters are also packing a second punch to people in Sindh province, Pakistan. Still rebuilding their homes and farms after deadly flooding in 2010, half of the people Catholic Relief Services plans to assist in Sindh are losing ground in their recovery efforts.
In the four districts CRS is prioritizing in Pakistan—among the poorest in the country—flooding has damaged or destroyed more than 200,000 homes. Jack Byrne, country representative for Pakistan, says this is "a double blow for many of the families affected by the current flood. They lost so much in the 2010 floods, and were beginning to get back on their feet. They've lost their crops, homes and belongings for the second time in a year."
Teams from CRS in India report that some people are waiting to be rescued from the tops of their houses, whereas others have made it safely to embankments but lack sufficient shelter.
CRS is responding in both countries. People displaced and affected by the floods need purified drinking water, hygiene items, shelter while they wait for waters to recede and boats for transportation. The flooding has washed away many smaller roads, and the only way to reach some communities is through murky water filled with submerged debris. CRS and partner organizations are determining how many people need assistance and the safest and most efficient way to move aid to where it's needed most.
Just this past month, CRS conducted emergency response training for 20 staff from partner organizations on water treatment in India. "We are not able to stop the monsoons from coming, but we can build a stronger and more capable response team when flooding happens," says Cassie Dummett, CRS' head of programming in India.
"CRS Pakistan employees are trained and prepared to respond to emergencies such as this," says Byrne. "But it's heartbreaking to see families who were just getting back on their feet have to start over yet again."
Jennifer Hardy is CRS' communications officer for digital and new media. She is based in Baltimore, Maryland.