U.S. Senator John Kerry has just returned from a trip to flooded Pakistan, and is shaken by what he saw. This is an excerpt from a posting on his Facebook wall:
I just got home to Massachusetts from seeing the floods in Pakistan — and what I saw there was as devastating and gripping as the last humanitarian crisis I emailed you about. Even as I sit here I’m shaken by the fact that this is Pakistan’s Katrina.
It’s not just that one fifth of the country – an area larger than all of New England, New York, New Jersey and Maryland combined – is submerged under historic flooding, or that with weeks left in the monsoon season, it could get even worse.
None of that captures what I saw and heard when our helicopter touched down. I went to Multan in the Punjab plains. This is no isolated hamlet, but an ancient city, a district capital with a population of over 1.5 million. And it’s inundated with water.
I spoke to the people, heard their stories, their desperation for food and water. They talked of the joy when they saw American Chinook helicopters – distinctive for their two big rotors – because they knew help was arriving. But the scale of the disaster hit me as I flew over the city and surrounding valley, mile after mile of Punjabi plains turned into a massive lake, this large city covered in water. Roads were washed out, vehicles abandoned, tall buildings turned into places of desperate refuge. Any flat surface high enough to escape the waters became a life-raft, often packed with people willing to bake in the hot sun rather than face the barrier of the flood-waters. The scene stretched on and on.
You can get a look at some of this – just get a small sense of it – watching this NBC News piece.
Senator Kerry goes on to encourage generosity in response to this disaster. I’ve posted some links on the bottom that enable you to do this, and if you are Canadian keep in mind our federal government is matching donations to Pakistan relief dollar for dollar. But please consider doing more than donating money; talk about the link between climate change and extreme weather events like this one with your friends and family. Lower your own carbon footprint, then join together with other members of your community to lower its carbon footprint. We are all in this together!