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Sudanese people spent nearly two years fighting a corrupt government and re-writing a new future for the country. After less than a year of civil disobedience and a strong-marched revolution that took down a 30-year-long dictatorship, Sudan finally got a civilian government and started a 3-year long transitional period in September 2020. What was supposed to follow was a rehabilitation period for this exhausted nation to recover. But it wasn't long sustaining until a new global threat hit Sudan. COVID-19 had hurdled and even decelerated the conditions Sudan was trying to solve, challenging its health, social, and economic developments.

And then there was a new threat, the Nile started overflowing into main states of the country, leading to flash-floods- then catastrophes followed. The Nile reached the highest level in 100 years. Since the beginning of September, it was measured at 17.62 meters, this is half a meter higher than the infamous 1948 record which was considered shocking at the time. Lives were lost and people had to leave their homes behind to safer grounds.

What happened in Al Maseed?

Zeinab Mohamed was one of the flood victims who decided to stay in her village, Al Maseed -located in Al Jazeira state, while most of the other villagers decided to leave. She told Andariya what happened when the floods hit her village.

This is her story narrated in her voice, and these are photos she took with her phone.

By the beginning of August, the Blue Nile passing through the village was high enough to tell the villagers that Autumn had begun. We expect it to reach a certain level this season before we start building barricades- just like we do every year as a precaution. It didn’t feel threatening at the time, but the water levels kept on rising every day. We had not imagine that it will break into the village, and even if it did, we thought at least blocking the water was going to be controllable.

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The Nile tide was slowly crawling into the village until it broke into my uncle's house; it was one of the first houses the river flooded because it was located on the borders of the village. That’s when we started to get worried and the entire neighborhood began building higher barricades until things were under control.  

“I felt something bad is about to happen and I got scared when I saw dark clouds. This is when we knew it's about to rain & it will turn things worse.”

On the night of August 3rd, the water broke the barricades again and I could hear men shouting and warning people that the water was heading towards the village. It was midnight, and both my mother and grandfather ran out to check what was going on. We locked doors and windows and closed every airway leading through, but 20 minutes later after useless attempts, the water flooded my entire house.

"Looking at the moon reflection on the water inside my yard, I thought to myself: this isn’t real. This is a nightmare."

I heard people screaming and asking for help. Some were seriously injured and others tried to save what was left of their clothes, house appliances, beds and everything they owned. The waters were rushing into our house so quickly, we tried stopping it with sandbags, but it didn’t serve us any protection. Other houses in the village started to collapse 30 minutes after the flood started, and flooding continued all night. By morning, the northwestern side of Al Maseed was completely inundated. As days passed by, the levels didn’t show hopes of decreasing and a lot of the villagers packed up what was left of their belongings and decided to leave the village.

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"We used suction pumps to pump the water out of our neighborhood, where some people were stuck on the top of their houses and couldn't move anywhere, actually they were not able to swim anywhere. "

Some men volunteered to stay close to the Nile to keep track of how high the levels reach in order to inform the chiefs of the village with the updates and plan what to do next. But with a small numbers of people to help, as some gave up and moved to other villages, and the uncontrollable currents which whenever we tried to build higher blocks, it breaks through, it made everyone hopeless and helpless.

It’s autumn season and we do expect it to rain constantly, and if it did, we are literally going to drown. We had rains yesterday, and they were heavy rains. Because of that, the water levels rose again. We were rushing in and out of the house trying to get out as much furniture and personal belongings as we could. Eventually we recovered a few things from the house that can keep us going for God knows how long. We don’t sleep well because we keep on checking every hour how high has the flood reached and we don’t know what will happen next. This is a very scary situation.

My family was thinking about leaving the village but we decided to stay when we finally heard humanitarian agencies were coming to rescue us. They brought in more barricades and sandbags, trucks loaded with more sand and rock debris to help us block the currents. More trucks came in carrying food and clean water, some of the volunteers were doctors, so they were able to treat the ones who were injured. They also had enough blankets for everyone. Our faith in saving our village was retrieved. We saw light at the end of the tunnel.

Andariya reached out to Zeianb again, and asked her how she was doing and what are the updates on the floods. Zeinab assured us that things are starting to get back to normal, water levels started to decrease and the flood had retrieved since then.

How can you help? 

Sudan needs support more than ever. If you want to help the victims of the floods in Al Maseed village or other areas in Sudan, you can donate to Nafeer – which traditionally refers to "running to help". Nafeer is a Sudanese non-profit initiative which works in assisting in people in need and crisis management. This initiative helps the victims of the floods by providing temporary shelters, covering urgent food needs, and handling medical emergencies resulting from the disaster.