Sixty days have passed since unexpectedly heavy monsoon rains began to flood the nation of Pakistan. Unprecedented water levels in the tributaries of the Indus River translated, as time passed, to record flooding along the river itself.
According to the latest United Nations report, 4.5% of the surface area of Pakistan was directly flooded between late July and September. This translates to the state of California being under water in the United States. 8.3% of the population, over 14 million people have been affected by the floods. That would be equivalent to the population of the state of Texas in the United States.
The southernmost Pakistani province of Sindh continues to suffer from flooding, and has the greatest number of displaced persons. About 960,000 people remain in refugee camps in that province, and 1.2 million nationally.
Much of the Sindh flooding is due to a break in the Indus River levee on August 28. This resulted in a second stream of flood waters parallel to the River moving southward. This flooding has lessened the direct flooding from the Indus River but has inundated areas east of the river that would normally be protected by levees.
Manchar Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Pakistan, and is west of the Indus. Sometime around September 17, the levees around the lake ruptured or were intentionally cut. Satellite images show the waters flowing east over the entire length of the lake. These flood waters threaten areas previously not exposed. It is unclear from various news reports if the levee breaches were as a result of the high lake levels or were intentional, to relieve those levels.
The United States military continues its support of the relief mission to Pakistan. The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group has arrived off the coast, in addition to the Peleliu ARG. Kearsarge will be deploying MV-22 Ospreys for the first time in this effort. These tilt-rotor aircraft combine the abilities of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed wing aircraft.
The Air Force has deployed a specialty freight handling unit from New Jersey to increase the ability of personnel in Pakistan to load and unload aircraft. The added equipment and the experts may double the availability of aircraft to transport freight.
The Department of Defense reports that about 8 million pounds of relief supplies have been delivered since this mission began. Over 16,000 Pakistanis have been rescued from flooded areas.
The State Department says that the United States has committed $211 million for immediate relief efforts in flooded areas of Pakistan and an additional $50 for recovery efforts. The U.S. has also provided over $40 million in goods and services to the stricken nation.