GUWAHATI, India — Incessant rain and floods have forced hundreds of thousands of people to move to safer places in eastern India’s Assam state, adding to the misery brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and a mid-May cyclone.
Authorities have moved some 1,000 people from flooded areas to 35 relief camps as the state continues to witness heavy rain since Cyclone Amphan made landfall on the eastern coast of India May 20, reported ucanews.com.
Assam State Disaster Management Authority said flooding has affected nearly 195,000 people as rain and strong winds created havoc across the state.
The National Weather Forecasting Centre has predicted more rain in the region.
Bishop Thomas Pulloppillil of Bongaigaon told ucanews.com: “What we are experiencing now looks like an extension of the impact of Cyclone Amphan. Many people lost their houses in heavy rain and powerful winds. The unseasonal rain and floods have caught people off guard and made their lives miserable, especially as they were all working hard to contain the spread of COVID-19.”
Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati, Assam’s commercial capital, said the flooding had created a difficult situation.
“We have been working hard to settle migrant workers who have returned from other states” after they lost jobs because of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, he said.
Moolachira said the state government is arranging relief camps and food for people displaced by the floods, maintaining the safety protocols of COVID-19.
“We are totally into helping repatriate migrants and keeping a watch on the surging flood as well,” he added.
One heavily Catholic area of the Guwahati Archdiocese has been particularly affected.
“The diocese is finding it hard to arrange funds to support the flood victims,” said Father Maya Martin Muchahary, archdiocesan social work director. Many of its existing funds had been diverted to fight COVID-19, he said.
“We can do a survey (of damage) only after the rain stops,” he added.
The flooding and COVID-19 hit Assam as it was fighting African swine fever, a fatal viral disease among pigs. Close to 15,000 pigs reportedly died of the disease in April and May, affecting village farmers who depend on pigs for their livelihoods.