DISASTER RESPONSE

A month back we had just returned from Kashmir. Now to even imagine the magnitude of the devastation there is difficult. I, along with my family visit Jammu and Kashmir every Eid without fail, and then we carry on an extended trip to visit my sister in law and other family members in Srinagar and Kazigund. We usually take the train from Delhi to Jammu, visit our house there for some time and drive till Doda. It’s an enjoyable journey of 5 hours, going through the beautiful mountains via Patnitop, a popular tourist destination. Landslides are common during the rains, but the Border Road Organization (BRO) is always there to meet such exigencies. The present year also, we had beautiful trip across Kashmir as we went to Srinagar via Ramban, Banihal, Kazigund, Bijbhera and Pamapore. We also went on a trip to Dudhpathri in Badgam, and later to the Sinthan top through Anantnag, Pahalgam (Daksum and Kokernag). It’s unbelievable to imagine that what we had seen in our last trip has all been ruined due to the flood crisis there. Keeping with our usual routine, We spoke with our family there on 3rd September when they told us about the continuous rainfall there. We didn’t think much of it then. The next day, ie. Thursday, some areas started getting flooded; the pictures of this scenario were sent to me by my brother in law, while on his way to his office in Pampore. Rain water had started clogging the low lying areas around the Srinagar bypass road and the highway. As the rain continued and the news kept pouring in, we become really tensed, especially as my father-in-law had moved there a week back, to stay with his daughter in Srinagar. He is in his eighties, and it is difficult for him to walk. My sister in law also had a number of guests in her house, as many of our relatives had come to see off my mother-in-law, who had left on her Hajj tour on the 2nd September. The cousins and aunts stayed the next day, from Thursday onwards they were stuck there, as the roads were flooded, and had become non-functional.

Since then, it has become a harrowing experience for all of us there in Srinagar, and in Delhi, as we waited and watched to see the scenes unfold before us. Continuous phone calls to know the happenings took place, and we became more and more worried about the rising water levels and limited supply of food and water available. The stock that had been in the house was being consumed by the family members and the guests, including four small children. As the water supply stopped from Wednesday, mineral water jars from nearby shops were being used in the kitchen, and rain water was being stored in tanks for usage in the bathroom and toilets. Somehow the things were getting managed with limited use of the available resources. Then came the big shock- the Jhelum had breached its bank/ bund near Rajbagh and Jawahar Nagar, and because of that, now the entire Srinagar is flooded. Panic prevailed in this situation. My sister in law tried reassuring us by saying that they were safe, but since water had entered Bhagat Chowk, which is 200 mts away from their home, and all the adjoining area was inundated, including the nearby Jawahar Nagar, our apprehensions were definitely not assuaged. The water entered their home, and they had to shift to the first floor of the house, where already another family was staying. By this time it was all over the news channels and watching all this, made us feel helpless. The phone network had also snapped, and we could not even find out what was happening there. Those two days seemed like they would never end. On the next Tuesday night, we were able to speak with my brother-in-law, as he had somehow managed to connect, and let us know that they were safe, before the phone went off. The next day we were able to talk to the whole family, and they told us about the traumatic nights that they had faced with no electricity, and they had stayed awake as they were scared that water might enter their house any time. They had learnt that the Jhelum was rising, and had broken some more embankments, following which there will be more flood. The situation remains grim, though the water level has started receding and some movements are possible. My sister is law is helping people by dropping them to the airport, as they still have enough fuel in the car, whereas the city is left without the petrol and diesel. Even the police forces at the airport and the security people recognise her now, and smiles whenever she is dropping the next person off. Somehow life is limping back, and we are saddened by the instances and account of the loss of lives during the flood crisis. It is especially saddening to see the number of children, who have lost their lives and parents who are scarred as their little loved ones were gone in moments. CARE is responding to the situation, and are distributing survival kits, along with food and water to the affected people in the crisis. We have also set up a base camp in Rajauri. I am happy that by being a part of CARE India, I have been able to contribute in a small way to help the affected people there. Adiba Khanam, Assistant Manager- Corporate Engagement WEPS

Posted By : CARE Team