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MUMBAI, India – An archbishop is asking for help after floods have devastated parts of Assam, located in Northeastern India.
Widespread rainfall has caused severe flooding and landslides in the state, and the authorities say 4.7 million people have been affected, with 2.3 million people taking shelter in 810 emergency camps set up by the government. At least 81 people have died due to the storms.
The bad weather began in mid-May, and a second wave of storms hitting this weekend are straining the state’s social services.
Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati, the state’s largest city, said the floods have “created havoc.”
“Apart from the precious lives, it has also caused widespread damages to houses, crops, property etc. As the Catholic Church has always stood by the victims of any such disaster, I would exhort you to extend all possible humanitarian help to the people affected by such a disastrous natural calamity irrespective of caste, creed and religion,” he said in a statement.
Father Maya Martin is the Director of the Guwahati Gana Seva Society (GGSS), the social services office of the archdiocese.
“The people of Assam were hit by the flood disaster during first wave of flood in the middle of May. The damage caused by the pre-monsoon flood in the first wave was so tremendous that many families were displaced and lodged in different relief camps,” he told Crux.
The priest said the GGSS provided ration kits and other necessities to 1150 families after the first set of storms, but the disaster wasn’t over.
“The incessant rain fall resumed once again in Assam within a short period causing the second wave of flood disaster,” he explained. “The second wave of flood disaster was intensified by the sudden water release from Kurisho Dam of Bhutan [a small Himalayan nation that borders India] in the lower path of Assam.”
He said this caused several rivers to flood.
“The causalities of the second wave of flood disasters in Assam has displaced many families forcing them to take shelter in relief camps. Most of houses are completely damaged and washed away as well as the people losing their crops in the field, livestock, important documents, household items etc.,” Martin continued.
“Transport and road communications are damaged. The women and children living in the relief camps are facing more difficult times. The issues of health and hygiene in the relief camps has a become a great matter of concern, though the government officials are trying to provide health care service. The food and drinking water is another major concern in the relief camps. At present people are in need of external help and support,” the priest said.
Flooding is a common occurrence in Assam, but this year’s disaster is considered to be the worst in local memory.