Impending monsoon season creates dire situation for Nepal's post-earthquake tent cities

Nepal Quakes Add to Monsoon Fears

By Katy Galimberti, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer

In Kathmandu, Nepal, and surrounding areas still reeling from the devastating earthquakes and aftershocks that claimed more than 8,000 lives, monsoon season has citizens and relief workers rushing to provide proper shelter before torrential rains slow efforts by nearly 50 percent.

Formally kicking off in mid-June, monsoon season brings the threat of heavy thunderstorms, flooding and strong winds at times.

In Kathmandu, the wettest period stretches from the end of June to the beginning of September, a nearly three-month chunk of the year where storms bring unsafe conditions to those without a proper form of shelter.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal's capital on April 25, destroying infrastructure across the city and surrounding areas. Mere weeks later, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit 47 miles east of Kathmandu, but effects were still felt in the already pillaged city.

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Impending monsoon season creates dire situation for Nepal's post-earthquake tent cities
BHAKTAPUR, NEPAL - 2015/05/02: Nepali residents sift through rubble to recover keys, coins, and other small items from the rubble of their home in Bhaktapur, Nepal on May 2, 2015. On April 25, 2015, Nepal suffered a magnitude 7.8 earthquake killing over 6,000 people and injuring thousands more. (Photo by Taylor Weidman/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A Nepalese policeman walks among earthquake debris in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu on April 28, 2015. Hungry and desperate villagers rushed towards relief helicopters in remote areas of Nepal on April 28, begging to be airlifted to safety, four days after a monster earthquake killed nearly 4,500 people. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
A man carries a woman injured in an earthquake in Kathmandu on April 28, 2015. Hungry and desperate villagers rushed towards relief helicopters in remote areas of Nepal on April 28, begging to be airlifted to safety, four days after a monster earthquake killed nearly 4,500 people. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
French rescue workers (back) and Spanish rescue workers (front) talk among earthquake debris in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu on April 28, 2015. Hungry and desperate villagers rushed towards relief helicopters in remote areas of Nepal on April 28, begging to be airlifted to safety, four days after a monster earthquake killed nearly 4,500 people. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese Military Police officials search through rubble in the earthquake damaged area of Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu on April 28, 2015. Hungry and desperate villagers rushed towards relief helicopters in remote areas of Nepal, begging to be airlifted to safety, four days after a monster earthquake killed nearly 4,500 people. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
KATHMANDU, NEPAL - APRIL 26: Local people and soldiers inspect debris of destroyed buildings after a powerful earthquake hits Katmandu, Nepal on April 26, 2015. The death toll in Nepal climbed towards 2,500 on Sunday as rescuers unearthed the victims of a powerful earthquake. There have been 773 people killed in Nepals densely-populated capital Kathmandu, while the Himalayan nations central region, close to the epicenter of Saturdays 7.8-magnitude quake, has seen 1,055 deaths. (Photo by Sunil Pradhan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Nepalese residents walk past road damage following an earthquake in Kathmandu on April 26, 2015. International aid groups and governments intensified efforts to get rescuers and supplies into earthquake-hit Nepal on April 26, 2015, but severed communications and landslides in the Himalayan nation posed formidable challenges to the relief effort. As the death toll surpassed 2,000, the US together with several European and Asian nations sent emergency crews to reinforce those scrambling to find survivors in the devastated capital Kathmandu and in rural areas cut off by blocked roads and patchy phone networks. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese residents mourn the death of a relative following an earthquake, at a mass cremation at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu on April 26, 2015. Aid groups and governments worldwide intensified efforts April 26 to help earthquake-hit Nepal, but blocked roads, downed power lines and overcrowded hospitals posed formidable challenges in an already poor country. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
A Nepalese resident mourns the death of a relative following an earthquake, at a mass cremation at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu on April 26, 2015. Aid groups and governments worldwide intensified efforts April 26 to help earthquake-hit Nepal, but blocked roads, downed power lines and overcrowded hospitals posed formidable challenges in an already poor country. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
KATHMANDU, NEPAL - APRIL 26: A motorbike is buried under debris of destroyed buildings in Katmandu, Nepal on April 26, 2015. The death toll in Nepal climbed towards 2,500 on Sunday as rescuers unearthed the victims of a powerful earthquake. There have been 773 people killed in Nepals densely-populated capital Kathmandu, while the Himalayan nations central region, close to the epicenter of Saturdays 7.8-magnitude quake, has seen 1,055 deaths. (Photo by Bulent Doruk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A Nepalese resident reacts after identifying the body of a relative in a mortuary at a city hospital in Kathmandu on April 26, 2015. International aid groups and governments intensified efforts to get rescuers and supplies into earthquake-hit Nepal on April 26, 2015, but severed communications and landslides in the Himalayan nation posed formidable challenges to the relief effort. As the death toll surpassed 2,000, the US together with several European and Asian nations sent emergency crews to reinforce those scrambling to find survivors in the devastated capital Kathmandu and in rural areas cut off by blocked roads and patchy phone networks. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)
KATHMANDU, NEPAL - APRIL 26: Destroyed buildings seen after a powerful earthquake in Katmandu, Nepal on April 26, 2015. The death toll in Nepal climbed towards 2,500 on Sunday as rescuers unearthed the victims of a powerful earthquake. There have been 773 people killed in Nepals densely-populated capital Kathmandu, while the Himalayan nations central region, close to the epicenter of Saturdays 7.8-magnitude quake, has seen 1,055 deaths. (Photo by Bulent Doruk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BHAKTAPUR, NEPAL - APRIL 26: Relatives of a victim of the earthquake that hit Nepal yesterday cry while walking to the cremation site on April 26, 2015 in Bhaktapur, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving thousands dead or trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. (Photo by Omar Havana/Getty Images)
The mass cremation of earthquake victims takes place Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu on April 26, 2015. International aid groups and governments intensified efforts to get rescuers and supplies into earthquake-hit Nepal on April 26, but severed communications and landslides in the Himalayan nation posed formidable challenges to the relief effort. AFP PHOTO/PRAKASH SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents stand in the street outside their homes following an earthquake, in Siliguri on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. Witnesses and media reports said the quake tremors lasted between 30 seconds and two minutes and were felt across the across the border in India, including in the capital New Delhi. AFP PHOTO / Diptendu DUTTA (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian police and bystanders look at a collapsed house following an earthquake, in Siliguri on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. Witnesses and media reports said the quake tremors lasted between 30 seconds and two minutes and were felt across the across the border in India, including in the capital New Delhi. AFP PHOTO / Diptendu DUTTA (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian bystanders look at a collapsed house following an earthquake, in Siliguri on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. Witnesses and media reports said the quake tremors lasted between 30 seconds and two minutes and were felt across the across the border in India, including in the capital New Delhi. AFP PHOTO / Diptendu DUTTA (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese people walk past collapsed buildings at Lalitpur, on the outskirts of Kathmandu on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese people sit in an open area following an 7.9 earthquake, at Lalitpur on the outskirts of Kathmandu on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese rescue members and onlookers gather at the collapsed Dharahara Tower in Kathmandu on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese people wheel an injured man into an open area following an 7.9 earthquake, at Lalitpur on the outskirts of Kathmandu on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
BHAKTAPUR, NEPAL - APRIL 26: A relative of one of the victims of the earthquake that hit Nepal yesterday cries on April 26, 2015 in Bhaktapur, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving thousands dead or trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. (Photo by Omar Havana/Getty Images)
Nepalese rescue members move the body of a victim from the collapsed Dharahara Tower in Kathmandu on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese people stand amidst debris of a collapsed building in Kathmandu on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
An Indian shopkeeper checks the damage inside his office following an earthquake, in Siliguri on April 25, 2015. A powerful 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive damage in the capital Kathmandu with strong tremors felt across neighbouring countries. Witnesses and media reports said the quake tremors lasted between 30 seconds and two minutes and were felt across the across the border in India, including in the capital New Delhi. AFP PHOTO / Diptendu DUTTA (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)
BHAKTAPUR, NEPAL - APRIL 26: A member of police forces walk down a street covered in debris after buildings collapsed on April 26, 2015 in Bhaktapur, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving thousands dead or trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. (Photo by Omar Havana/Getty Images)
Nepalese residents walks past road damage following an earthquake in Kathmandu on April 26, 2015. International aid groups and governments intensified efforts to get rescuers and supplies into earthquake-hit Nepal on April 26, 2015, but severed communications and landslides in the Himalayan nation posed formidable challenges to the relief effort. As the death toll surpassed 2,000, the US together with several European and Asian nations sent emergency crews to reinforce those scrambling to find survivors in the devastated capital Kathmandu and in rural areas cut off by blocked roads and patchy phone networks. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian residents rest and sleep in a football field in Siliguri on April 26, 2015 after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the region on April 25 in Nepal. International aid groups and governments intensified efforts to get rescuers and supplies into earthquake-hit Nepal on April 26, but severed communications and landslides in the Himalayan nation posed formidable challenges to the relief effort. AFP PHOTO / DIPTENDU DUTTA (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian residents rest and sleep in a football field in Siliguri on April 26, 2015 after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the region on April 25 in Nepal. International aid groups and governments intensified efforts to get rescuers and supplies into earthquake-hit Nepal on April 26, but severed communications and landslides in the Himalayan nation posed formidable challenges to the relief effort. AFP PHOTO / DIPTENDU DUTTA (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)
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The second quake hit rural parts of the Himalayan foothills the hardest, an area more susceptible to flooding and mudslides during the grips of monsoon season.

"The heavy nature of this rainfall leads to an elevated risk for flooding and mudslides, which will only be even higher this year due to the earthquake which weakened the mountain terrain," AccuWeather Meteorologist Eric Leister said. "The earthquakes loosened the soil and that makes it more suspect to collapsing when heavy rain adds extra strain to both below and above the surface."

ShelterBox Response Team Member Tim Osburn, who recently returned from a relief trip to Nepal, said the impending monsoon season has the country and aid workers rushing.

For the mountain villages and surrounding towns that still exist, the damage is extensive. Given the rural nature, aid workers have an arduous journey to get to areas where the damage was most severe.

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As of May 25, up to 315,000 people in the most affected areas are still inaccessible by road while another 75,000 cannot be reached even by air, according to the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Elite climbers have been called upon to hand-deliver supplies to those who have no other way of receiving necessary aid.

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When the monsoon-fueled storms deliver torrential rainfall, trips to the outlying areas will become increasingly difficult.

Osburn estimated that relief efforts will slow by 50 percent as heavy rains will trigger mudslides and continue to cut access to the remote towns.

"The ground is cracked, opened up," Osburn said.

During monsoon season, up to 80 percent of the yearly average rain will fall. With this year expected to align with average rainfall totals, Kathmandu could receive more than 40 inches of rain in less than four months.

Osburn said the fear of another earthquake striking without warning combined with the enhanced risks of monsoon season has raised additional concerns for Nepal residents.

"It's all about now," he said. "There will be landslides, there will be roads taken out, there will be injuries and lives lost."

In some cases, he said villages sitting in higher elevations could see a landslide start a mere half mile up the terrain. At that point, there's nothing else to do.

"They've spent a lot of time and energy getting temporary shelters up," Osburn said. "But when standing up to a monsoonal rain, you could see the work going right down a hill after one of those."

While the building process continues for more permanent structure, many are still in tents or other forms of temporary shelters.

Osburn described a scene of "structures cobbled together with tarps placed upon them."

People are still living in makeshift shelters in villages across Nepal. (Photo/Tim Osburn)

ShelterBox has provided emergency shelter to more than 15,000 people in Nepal. The tents ShelterBox provides are designed to withstand winds up to 70 mph and stay dry in 6 inches of standing water.

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Nepal candlelight vigil
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Impending monsoon season creates dire situation for Nepal's post-earthquake tent cities
Nepalese residents and others participate in a candle-light memorial for the victims of the April 25 earthquake in Kathmandu on May 25, 2015, as the country marks one month since a deadly earthquake struck the Himalayan nation. The April 25 disaster was followed by another massive quake on May 12, which sent shockwaves through the Himalayan nation, as the twin tremors killed over 8,600 people and left thousands desperate for food, shelter and clean water. AFP PHOTO / ISHARA S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese residents and others participate in a candle-light memorial for the victims of the April 25 earthquake in Kathmandu on May 25, 2015, as the country marks one month since a deadly earthquake struck the Himalayan nation. The April 25 disaster was followed by another massive quake on May 12, which sent shockwaves through the Himalayan nation, as the twin tremors killed over 8,600 people and left thousands desperate for food, shelter and clean water. AFP PHOTO / ISHARA S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents hold lit candles in remembrance of the April 25th earthquake that struck Nepal killing over 7,500 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless during a candle-light memorial in Kathmandu on May 7, 2015. Nepal wrapped up a 13-day period of mourning May 7 for victims of an earthquake that killed more than 7,800 people as its broken capital began slowly picking up the pieces. As authorities released figures showing nearly 300,000 homes were destroyed by the quake in Kathmandu alone, mourners gathered around a damaged Hindu temple for the first of a series of ceremonies. AFP PHOTO/ ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese residents and others participate in a candle-light memorial for the victims of the April 25 earthquake in Kathmandu on May 25, 2015, as the country marks one month since a deadly earthquake struck the Himalayan nation. The April 25 disaster was followed by another massive quake on May 12, which sent shockwaves through the Himalayan nation, as the twin tremors killed over 8,600 people and left thousands desperate for food, shelter and clean water. AFP PHOTO / ISHARA S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents hold lit candles as they observe a minute of silence in remembrance of the April 25th earthquake that struck Nepal killing over 7,500 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless, in Kathmandu on May 7, 2015. Nepal wrapped up a 13-day period of mourning May 7 for victims of an earthquake that killed more than 7,800 people as its broken capital began slowly picking up the pieces. As authorities released figures showing nearly 300,000 homes were destroyed by the quake in Kathmandu alone, mourners gathered around a damaged Hindu temple for the first of a series of ceremonies. AFP PHOTO/ ROBERTO SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
A Nepalese child participates in a candle-light memorial for the victims of the April 25 earthquake in Kathmandu on May 25, 2015, as the country marks one month since a deadly earthquake struck the Himalayan nation. The April 25 disaster was followed by another massive quake on May 12, which sent shockwaves through the Himalayan nation, as the twin tremors killed over 8,600 people and left thousands desperate for food, shelter and clean water. AFP PHOTO / ISHARA S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)
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"Although temporary shelter materials are sufficient as a short-term solution, it is imperative to get families into permanent housing as soon as possible," Habitat for Humanity International Communications Officer Angeli Alba said.

However, shelter is just one of many concerns.

"Respiratory infections, hypothermia and other illnesses have increased levels of risk when there is not adequate shelter to protect families," Alba said. "There are worries that those most vulnerable, particularly children, the differently abled and the elderly, will not be able to withstand the monsoons and the difficult conditions that will accompany them."



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