NPR logo After Flood, The Swat River Is 'Littered With Sand, Smoothed Rocks And Boulders'


After Flood, The Swat River Is 'Littered With Sand, Smoothed Rocks And Boulders'

In Delay, Pakistan, a young girl cooks chapati, a Pakistani bread, as her family prepares to break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Susannah George/NPR hide caption

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Susannah George/NPR

DELAY, PAKISTAN — A young woman is cooking capati — Pakistani bread — in a room that was once her family's stables. Monsoon-triggered flood waters ripped through her village, Delay, in Northern Pakistan, more than a month ago, and sheered off five rooms from her family's home, including the kitchen.

In her village alone, the floods completely destroyed more than 20 houses. A river now runs through the town where those houses once stood. The collapsed roofs of some of them are still visible above the rapids.

Northern Pakistan has been slow to recover from the floods. The Swat River was once lined with lush rice fields, today its banks look more like a New England coastline: littered with sand, smoothed rocks and boulders.

Of the hundreds of bridges that were swept away by the floods, only two have been repaired. Aid distribution has begun, but without bridges, distribution is difficult to impossible. Many towns and villages remain cut off, and the Pakistani military, the U.S. government, and NGOs are forced to use helicopters to deliver one-month rations to families in need. But the ration packs — wheat flour, cooking oil and high energy biscuits — are merely a temporary solution. One man remarked: "If we do not have crops or livestock, we will be like gypsies, just wandering."