At the scenes of the mudslides and flash floods that killed over 500 people and displaced approximately 6000 others, volunteers played amazingly important roles in very many ways. According to Pieter Peters*, a resident of the downstream Kamayama community, rescuing people that were being washed away as well as recovering the dead from the gushing streams was frightening, but, he says, it had to be done. “We pulled both living and dead people from the flood waters in large numbers.”
Volunteer Sonali Rani Das works as a nurse and has been a member of the mobile medical team since 2011. Currently the team is seeing 200 patients a day, all presenting complaints about the recent catastrophic floods that hit Bangladesh.
We are seeing a lot of women and children. They have problems like skin infections, eye infections, scabies, diarrhoea and asthma. We have even seen snake bites. When I see the children, I take the mother’s blood pressure and check her over too,” she explains.
Authorities estimate that at least 228 houses collapsed or were swept away in this region, nearly 600 were damaged or unroofed and 657 billion Vietnam Dong or 28.9 million US dollars’ worth of crops, livestock and infrastructure were lost.
Within a day of the flash floods, Viet Nam Red Cross Society volunteers arrived in the affected provinces to assist families with supplies, financial and emotional support, and other help from the Viet Nam Red Cross Society headquarters.
On Wednesday, they joined dozens of other volunteers who piloted bass boats, jet skis and aluminum dinghies through the caramel-colored floodwaters of west Houston to ferry hundreds of residents to safety, part of an impromptu flotilla that has played a prominent role in the recovery from the worst storm to hit Texas in more than 50 years.
“I usually just use this boat for drinking beer,” said Sparkman as he steered his flat-bottomed boat around submerged pickup trucks. “But we come together when we need to - that’s what Texans do.”