Victims make shelters with polythene, tarpaulin on Shahpari Island

Many homes at Jaliapara in Shah Porir Dwip are completely damaged at the onslaught of very severe cyclone Mocha. A child Nur Ayesha returns home with drinking water from half a kilometre away on 17 May 2023
Gias Uddin

The distance from Kulalpara Jeep Station in Teknaf municipal area to the Shahpari Island jetty is 13 km. There are hundreds of fishing trawlers anchored at the Bazarpara ghat of the Naf river along the Jaliapara embankment. Fishing has come to a halt due to cyclone Mocha.

Jaliapara is under ward no. 9 by Naf river. Cyclone Mocha damaged houses and shops in the area. The roofs and fences of most of the houses were blown away.

Bashir Ahmed, 50, whose shop was damaged by the cyclone, was sitting in front of his wrecked shop.

He told Prothom Alo, “Mocha blew away the my house and shop. The house is not livable. My family and I had a hard time in the rains last night. I don't know when I will be able to repair the shop and the house.”

He said that miscreants looted goods worth Tk 30,000 from his shop. Now he is living on food assistance from Prothom Alo Trust.

Many other likes Bashir Ahmad were seen trying to cover their damaged homes with polythene or tarpaulin. Others were sitting with their families in the open.

Fatema Khatun, 37, a resident of Jaliapara, is a housewife. Her husband Mohammad Jobair is a day labourer. But instead of going to work, he is busy trying to mend theie devastated house. Yet he cannot arrange food for his family if he does not go to work.

Several villages in three wards of Shahpari Island were badly affected by cyclone Mocha. Many houses in those villages were completely destroyed. Most of them belonged to fishermen and day labourers. They need assistance to repair their houses.

Fisherman Nur Kabir and seven members of his family slept under tarpaulin as the roof of his house was blown off. They could not sleep due to rains on Tuesday night. He said, "I do not know how I will repair the house."

According to Cox's Bazar district administration, St. Martin's island with an area of eight square kilometers was the worst hit by the cyclone. Apart from this, Jaliapara, Camp Para, Dakshin Para, Middle Para, Dangar Para and North Para areas of Shahpari Island were also severely affected. The population of this Shahpari island is about 40,000, consisting of three wards (wards 7, 8 and 9) of Sabrang Union of Naf River and Bay of Bengal Teknaf.

Amir Hossain, 45, said he is somehow managing to survive with his sons, setting up polythene over their heads. They did not receive any relief assistance yet.

This correspondent found a similar condition in Majher Para, Dangar Para and Uttar Para in Shahpari Island. Many houses were destroyed. They are trying to repair those on their own.

There was no electricity in the Shahpari Island till Wednesday evening due to the uprooting of power poles and wires by the cyclone.

Abdus Salam, UP member of Ward no. 9 of Sabrang Union Parishad, said, "The people here have been facing shortage of food and water for several days. No official relief has been received so far. However, various relief programmes are being carried out. There is no electricity in the area for four days.”

Sabrang Union Parishad panel chairman Shamsul Alam said that at least 2,000 families have lost their livelihood in this union. No government relief material has been received yet. However, food items have been distributed through some NGOs.

Relief aid

Director general of Directorate of Disaster Management Mohammad Mizanur Rahman distributed food items among more than 200 families after visiting the Majher Para, Dakshin Para and Dangar Para of Shahpari Island. While visiting these areas on Wednesday afternoon, he told reporters, "I have spoken to the affected families. I also provided some food aid. Financial support will be provided by preparing the correct list with the help of local public representatives and upazila administration.

Meanwhile, Cox's Bazar deputy commissioner Muhammad Shaheen Imran said that relief aid and corrugated iron sheets for repairing houses have been sent for the residents of the affected area yesterday.

Saying that the list of affected people is being made, the deputy commissioner said, "Relief distribution has started among 1,200 affected families of St. Martin’s. Relief is also being given to residents of Shahpari Island. They will receive corrugated iron sheets and cash assistance for repairing their houses.”