CRS provides relief to Bangladeshis affected by Cyclone Bulbul

Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nov 13, 2019 / 11:01 pm (CNA).- After the dissipation of Cyclone Bulbul, Catholic organizations have provided aid to the victims in Bangladesh, and assessed the immediate and long term needs of those recovering from the storm.

The cyclone made landfall in India’s West Bengal state Nov. 9. It has heavily affected the coastal areas of Bangladesh and India, claiming at least 20 lives, according to the Guardian.

Authorities said more deaths would have occurred if it was not for the sake of increased evacuation efforts, the BBC reported.

Snigdha Chakraborty, Catholic Relief Services’ manager for Bangladesh, commended the efforts but said victims are still in need of more aid.

“While there are many people who will need significant support following this storm, the government’s robust preparedness activities have paid off. Most people were able to get into evacuation shelters and out of harm’s way,” she said Nov. 10.

The storm has damaged thousands of homes and nearly 500,000 acres of crops, Al Jazeera reported. It had also shut down the Kolkata airport in India and Bangladesh’s two largest ports, Mongla and Chittagong.

After evacuation efforts, more than 2 million people were forced to spend a night in a shelter.

Chakraborty expressed concern that the shelters will not be a sufficient fix for the long run, noting that some of these places do not have a safe water source. CRS said people need shelter repair support and farmers will need compensation for their damaged crops.

“We are concerned that the cyclone shelters are not sufficient for anything more than a very short stay. People are eating snack food and bread as the shelters have no facilities to cook,” Chakraborty said.

“Families will be in the shelters at minimum another two days under heavy rains, and for the people who return to find their homes damaged or destroyed, they are looking at even longer displacement … Caritas Bangladesh has provided their shelters with water jars sufficient through today, but this will be a critical need for the next few days.”

CRS has partnered with Caritas Bangladesh, both of which helped with evacuations. Among the 300 operational shelters, Caritas Bangladesh opened 40 cyclone shelters.

Chakraborty said that while CRS has continued efforts along the coasts, there are territories that are hard to reach inland. She said some damages have yet to be assessed.

“Right now, we are very focused on the badly affected Sathkhira and Khulna districts on the coast, which continue to experience heavy rain and high winds,” she said.

“Staff have not yet been able to reach some of the remotest locations due to ongoing rains, heavy winds and damaged roads. Initial reports in Khulna indicate significant crop losses and partial or total damage to poorly constructed houses. And we have early information about significant seas surges in remote areas of Sathkhira, but hope to get confirmation tomorrow.”

Chakraborty applauded the evacuation efforts on behalf of the government and volunteers. She said more needs to be done to support victims but lives were saved by following the evacuation protocol.

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