Cyclone Sidr Recovery - The Search for Loved Ones Begins
[From Dhaka, 6:20 pm Local Time] For residents of Dhaka, the road to recovery is more than just bricks and mortar. It's also about rebuilding lives.
The city of Dhaka's repair efforts have been impeccable. On the day of the storm, a car I was riding in was showered in glowing sparks from an nearby exploding transformer. That very weekend, during daylight, I had gone to assess the damage and take a photo. Except there was no damage to photograph. Apparently, where once a damaged transformer stood now stood a repaired and/or replaced transformer. I found a similar experience when trying to document knocked down trees. By the time I heard of a tree which was blocking traffic - it had already been taken care of.
The residents of Dhaka - the working poor in particular - are no less resourceful and quick to repair. A cook employed by an aunt explained how Cyclone Sidr's winds had managed to knock the roofs off of her and her neighbours bostis (slum housing). When I had inquired if I could take a photo of the damage - I was told it was too late: they had already repaired their roofs. Unfortunately, recovery is more than laying new wires, bricks, and roofs. It's about things going back to normal. And, the road to recovery is one that may very well be paved with a lot of grief.
Many rural residents are still left without any help - as relief workers desperately struggle to reach them and provide much needed supplies. At present count, over 2,500 people have died with countless more displaced and out of contact. Many Dhaka residents, having lost contact with loved ones in the coastal areas, are left wondering where their loved ones are. Such is the case for Shaidul, a government employee who took a leave of absence to go to Barishal to search for his loved ones. He doesn't know if he is going for a reunion or to bury them. His story is not uncommon. Many Dhaka residents either want to or are taking time off to go to the cyclone affected regions to search for loved ones.
Despite the running water, electricity, and clear roads in Dhaka City, there is an ominous sense that recovery is a long way away.