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Chitral floods 2015 – the tale of Phargram

By Atta Ur Rehman, Morder Chitral
A beautiful village of UC Mulkow at a height of about 8,000 feet from sea level called Phargram comprises of 37 households. There is no other village above Phargram however adjacent to it, Uthool lies on its north east and Nogram on its south. The village is full of the best poplar trees of Chitral, walnut and apricots.
It was 22nd of July 2015. Probably, evening time or dusk. The inhabitants of Phargram Uthool Mulkow were busy and closing the day. The clouds were hovering above the Hindukush ranges connected to the the valley on its north. For the last two-three days, there were news of floods in different valleys of Chitral such as Kuragh, Reshun , Broze etc. These villages had fast flowing streams (Gol) and glacier melt was predictable. However, Phargram had no such Goland glacier to alert the inhabitants. All of a sudden there was thunder and a quick downpour. The women of Phargram started shoving their cattle into their cattle houses (Shal). The Children of the village started giggling, dancing and running to their houses to avoid getting wet. The men of the village were worried about the wheat fields which were ready to harvest. Some, who had harvested, started collecting the bales. But the rain was too fast. So, they tried to hide in their houses. The typical Chitrali houses made up of mud-brick and roof with wooden pillars. Some economically stable families had also tin sheets on their roof and the heavy rain was rattling making the tin sheets sound like drums. Sudden and fast rain settles down soon. That’s what they say in the mountains.
So, the people of Phargram waited under their roof. But this time it was not just the rain. All of a sudden the rain brought stones and mud washed away from the top of the mountains and barren areas above fields. There was a thrashing sound of falling trees and a roar of fast muddy water entering the houses like snakes. The small village having close neighborhood started shouting and running. But there was flood in three different ravines. Those whose houses were first hit were dumbed under the roof and mud bricks including a family of seven. An orphan young man ran away and the gushing water hit his house like a rocket making hole in the roof and washing away all that he had in the small houses. More than 10,000 trees were washed away which are a source of income generation and fuel wood for the people. Many fields were washed away which were the only products of subsistence farming the inhabitants were engaged in. All the irrigation channels were washed away. Alongside this sudden catastrophe it was getting darker and darker. All people ran in fear and worry and by dark he who was alive thought the other was dead. Some of the villagers managed to gather at an open space. The rain stopped but the cries of the children didn’t. The night was spent under the open sky. The open sky,being the only witness of this tragedy. No one slept that night.
The next dawn was not a usual dawn. When the eyes were able to see the minds were not able to fathom. The beautiful village was washed away. More than 10 houses were completely washed away. Eight people died. Assets were lost. Filed were no more fields. It was no more the same place. I visited the place after ten days of flood and i couldn’t recognize the houses. The people are still waiting for relief packages from God because now God is their only hope as the only helicopter that landed there after flood brought only few medicines and was gone. However, the helipad is still there with an “H’’. I for a moment thought, H stands for Hope.

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