Friday December 13, 2019
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Assam flood situation grim, over 9 lakh people hit

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Guwahati: The flood situation in Assam continues to be grim as more than 900,000 people in 19 districts remain affected following incessant rainfall in the upper reaches of neighboring Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, officials said. According to the state disaster management authority, four people have died due to floods in Nagaon and Morigaon districts since Tuesday. The water resources department said rivers flowing through Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Tinsukia, Baksa, Nalbari, Barpeta and Dibrugarh were in spate following incessant rainfall since the last few days, leading to submerging of over 2,000 villages over 500 in Dhemaji alone.

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According to the disaster management authority, the floods have affected 9,98,730 people in 2,005 villages, and submerged over 1.5 lakh hectares of agricultural land. Over 1,75,000 people were taking shelter in 305 relief camps set up by the district administrations in 11 flood-hit districts. The floods have also led to massive damage of houses, bridges and roads, cutting off many areas from rest of the state. The Majuli river island in Jorhat district has been cut off, as the district administration suspended ferry services due to rising water level in the Brahmaputra river. Similarly, ferry services between Guwahati and north Guwahati and to many riverine areas in Dhubri districts have also been suspended.

(IANS)

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Midwest Farmers Dealing with Flood Water in a Planting Season

“Never had anything like this before. Not this kind of a flood,” said Geisler, who is still in a daze and trying to grasp all his losses

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flood, midwest farmers
Midwest Farmer 'Still In A Daze' At What The Devastating Flood Left Behind. VOA

Tom Geisler has experienced many ups and downs in his 43 years of farming, as weather sometimes helped and often hurt his livelihood. But he was not prepared for what Mother Nature brought this spring.

“Never had anything like this before. Not this kind of a flood,” said Geisler, who is still in a daze and trying to grasp all his losses. In March, melting snow from a harsh winter combined with a “bomb cyclone” storm caused historic flooding in the fields and communities across the Midwest.

Geisler cultivates corn, soy beans and hay, and raises cattle on 162 hectares (400 acres) of his family’s farm near Hooper, Nebraska. The water has mostly receded, but it left a mess in his fields, and his 134-year-old farm house is unlivable.

Bad timing 

In 10 minutes, Geisler said, water filled his basement and crept into his home. During the worst of the flood, he helplessly listened as his recently born calves cried in distress.

“(They were) bawling all night. Just about made us heartbroken, but they survived. I thought they’d be gone,” Geisler remembered. “(I) couldn’t even get to my calves. It was five foot (1.5 meters) deep out there. I couldn’t even feed them. Two calves are completely gone. They floated away and two cows died.”

Timing is bad since it is calving season. Geisler hopes the rest of his cattle recover from the stress of standing in icy water for long periods of time. As for his land, after it dries up, he will have to clear some areas of sand deposits before he can start planting late in the growing season this spring. He estimates the floods did $100,000 in damages to the fences around his farm.

“We lived on this place for 32 years since I’ve been married to my wife, Frances. … My mother’s been at her place all of her life. She’s 90 years old, and she’s never seen anything like this, either.”

Extreme weather 

Geisler said in the last three years, the weather has been more wet and “extreme” and the storms are “getting intense.”

“We haven’t had a good week of weather since the first week of August of last year. It’s been raining every one or two days every week since then,” he said.

He said over the course of 40 years, farmers may have made the problem worse by switching to row crops like corn instead of grass, alfalfa and small grains such as wheat to feed cattle.

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Tom Geisler farms corn, soy beans, hay and cattle. He lost two cows and two calves in the flood. (Photo: Elizabeth Lee / VOA)

“Now, it’s almost all row crops, so a lot of the water just runs off. I think that has affected our flooding quite a bit.” Geisler explained. “Just really be nice if we all had a patch of grass to hold some water back. Too much land has been highly erodible that’s in row crops right now, I think.”

About six years ago, many farmers replaced grass with corn because of the demand for ethanol and an “excellent” export market, Geisler said.

He pointed to topsoil that had washed away from the fields. He said it takes 100 years to make an inch (2.54 cm) of topsoil, and “probably half an inch is gone. So, that’s 50 years worth of soil.”

ALSO READ: Arab States Face Water Supply Emergency, Problems Complicated by Climate Change: UN

One day at a time

Geisler said he will work on repairing the flood damage one day at a time. His younger son, a future farmer, will help.

“We’ve always been resilient, so hopefully we can come back (and) farm some more. I’m the fifth generation of farmers, so hopefully we can continue that trend. I don’t want to give up. Sometimes you feel like it, but I don’t want to.” (VOA)