Flooding in Pakistan threatens Columbans, parishes

August 11, 2010

Many of you may have wondered about how the Columbans in Pakistan have fared with that country’s major flooding.

“It is about to become a disaster in Hyderabad where much of my ministry is,” Columban Fr. Robert McCulloch said by email.

Columban Fr. Robert McCulloch

Fr. McCulloch sent us details on what he is expecting, and what the people stand to lose, and how we can help.

“The Indus River at Hyderabad is currently at 230,000 cusecs [in USA this is cfs = cubic feet per second]. Government flood warnings are that by mid-afternoon on August 13 it will rise to 1,200,000 cusecs for 2 days and then will be 900,000 for eight or nine days. We are in for an awful disaster.

“Everything on the ground floor of St. Elizabeth Hospital, of which I am chairman, has gone to the first floor. We will lose all our x-ray department and its equipment and the operating theatres will be horribly affected. Some equipment cannot be removed. Our recently installed 135 KVA (Kilo Volt Ampere) generator will be ruined. And the building itself! I cannot begin to think properly about it all.

“The Catholic Centre of Academic Excellence in Hyderabad that I run for 100 Catholic young men will be flooded completely. Churches, Catholic schools and clinics upcountry have been damaged already and more will be badly damaged in Hyderabad.

Fr. McCulloch talks with visitors outside St. Elizabeth Hospital in Hyderabad, Pakistan. He is chairman of the board at St. Elizabeth, which is threatened by severe flooding in the region.

“We get nothing from aid agencies nor from the Pakistani government nor from foreign governments nor from Caritas for the repair of these buildings. And the thousand of dwellings of ordinary struggling families that have gone in the north and are now those about to be swept away in Hyderabad. We had a “minor” flood 5 years ago and it did awful damage. I shudder to think about what these next 10 days will bring.

“Along the Indus River south of Hyderabad there are 18,000 people for whom St. Elizabeth hospital is the sole medical provider. They are agricultural slaves of the big powerful absentee landlords. They don’t count in the aid lists but we at St. Elizabeth Hospital will have to see to them. Every little thing they have has gone. We will have to see to them.

“What will be needed are funds to reconstruct after the floods recede, to help people put their lives back together, to get our hospital out of mud and chaos, to manifest the compassion and mercy of Christ to those in greatest need. People will have immediate medical needs, especially impoverished women who have gone through childbirth in terrible flood circumstances. They live in grinding poverty now compounded by this awful disaster.

“May we all continue to serve the love of Christ.”

Fr. Robert McCulloch