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International Student's Family Displaced by Flooding

10:54 PM, Aug 22, 2010   |    comments
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  • Tauseef Mutwahir
  • One of Mutwahir's relatives brings supplies in along the main street of the village because the water is still too high to walk.
  • These stairs show mud residue until the top step, which means the flood waters were that high.
  • Only the top story of this two story local restaurant is visible days after the high flood waters.
  • The courtyard of Mutwahir's grandfather's home is now completely submerged.
  • Water markings inside this elevated house show how high the water got.
  • Satellite image courtesy of NASA. Taken August 12, 2010.
  • Water still remains on the roads days after the high flood has receded.
  • Satellite image courtesy of NASA. Taken August 19, 2010.
  • Satellite image courtesy of NASA. Taken July 10, 2009.
  • This house is at a relatively higher location than the other houses, but the flood has damaged the wall and all of the family's possessions are also destroyed.
  • The road was cut off in high flood and people were stranded. Those pictured are running away to Peshawar.
  • The area pictured is a fertile land producing oranges and other fruits which is now completely submerged by the floods.
  • Plains are underwater coving lands, houses and possessions.
  • The area pictured is a fertile land with crops and fruits. It is completely submerged destroying cash crops.
  • Plains are underwater coving lands, houses and possessions.
  • The flood water destroyed this house which lies close to the riverbank. When the waters receded the house was found like this.
  • The flood water destroyed this house which lies close to the riverbank. When the waters receded the house was found like this.
  • This car was left behind by the people running away from the flood waters.It is full of mud and is water damaged beyond belief.
  • The water has eroded away the grave and washed away the remains of Mutwahir's ancestors.
  • Satellite image courtesy of NASA. Taken July 2009.
    
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  • How you can help with flood relief
  • A UT international student in his first semester of graduate work is adjusting to school in the United States while worrying about his family in Pakistan.  They've been displaced by flooding in the northwest part of that country that started 25 days ago.

    "It's been tough because I'm powerless.  I can't do anything," said Tauseef Mutwahir.

    Mutwahir has only been in Knoxville a few weeks.  He came to UT to work on a Master's degree in Public Health. He left Pakistan 15 days before Monsoon rains flooded the Indus River, taking out Akora Khattak, his family's village in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  That's the area hardest hit by the disaster.

    "It's right on the riverbank, so it's completely gone," said Mutwahir.

    Now, Mutwahir is caught between studying and worrying about his entire family, including his mother.  They are victims of what United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, said is the worst disaster he's ever seen.  More than 1,600 people are dead, and another 20 million are displaced or completely homeless.

    "The death toll, if you compare it to Hurricane Katrina or to the earthquake in Haiti, that's, it's not high.  It's 1,500 to 2,500 people. That's a lot of people, but compared to everything else there are 21 million people who are displaced.  And, displaced doesn't mean that they have homes to go back to.  They have nothing," said Mutwahir.

    His family has lost everything they own, but he finds comfort in the fact that they are all safe.  He said they lived on a high ground road for seven days before getting any kind of help.

    "They woke up and they found themselves floating on beds because the water was up so high," said Mutwahir.

    Water has yet to recede, just as international aid has been slow to reach the area.  Mutwahir said he is worried that disease will set in soon, making things worse.

    "There's high water everywhere, so it's still under water and stagnant water will lead to diseases, cholera, malaria," said Mutwahir.

    Mutwahir is going to be part of a benefit hosted by UT's International House on Friday, August, 29, 2010.  They will provide food and entertainment.  Mutwahir will present a slide show of the effected area and talk about his family's experiences in the disaster.  It begins at 6:30pm.  For more information call 865-974-4453.

    "If you don't care for your fellow human beings, no one is going to care for you.  It's simple," said Mutwahir.

    Photos included in the story courtesy of Tauseef Mutwahir.

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