By Mayank Jain:
UPDATED: 12th September, 2014
“No helplines are working, I am struggling to enquire about the wellbeing of my family as they are stranded somewhere. The water is pouring from all sides and there is no way to contact them and I have not slept since last night because I have been waiting for their call,” Idhries told us how disturbed he is about the wellbeing of his parents who are stuck in Kashmir right now.
Five days of torrential rainfall have turned the state of Jammu and Kashmir into a submerged wreck of life and property. The floods currently wreckingÂ havoc in the state are the worst since last 50 years and the situation is nowhere under control. Indian administered Kashmir is worst hit with almost 175 people having lost their lives byÂ now and several thousand displaced. The situation has not only impacted India administered Kashmir but the Pakistan occupied Kashmir has been hit as well. Areas of Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan as well as Punjab have also been affected. More than 160 people are feared to have lost their lives in Pakistan.
The rains started around 2nd September 2014 in J&K and adjoining areas and the uncontrollable downpour triggered flooding, landslides and collapse of buildings. Jhelum river is already flowing above the danger mark in Srinagar and Chenab river in Pakistan is overflowing as well. Parts of central Punjab have been drowned.
According to initial estimates, the discharge rate is almost thrice the normal rate of 25000 cubic meters second, at 70000 cubic meters per second. Cause of the flood is said to be the rainfall itself which led toÂ flood barriers breaking off and water entering the streets. Hospitals, schools, offices and even channels of communication have been disrupted. People have taken to Twitter and whatever radio communication they can find near them to report the current events as even the Army is struggling to enter some areas which are heavily submerged in water.
Response and Relief
The Indian Army has already deployed around 18000 personnel and Indian Air Force is working in tandem with 29 planes. Helicopters have been deployed as well. 50 tonnes of supplies including food, water and medicines have been delivered to ground zero and boats are being brought from all parts of India to rescue and helpÂ people reach safer areas.
– Mirza Waheed (@MirzaWaheed) September 8, 2014
By now, 13000 people have been evacuated from various areas by the Army and IAF. The Prime Minister has offered complete assistance with a relief fund of 10,000 crore. He took an aerial survey of the affected areas and extended help to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) as well. Similar assistance has been announced by Madhya Pradesh, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and he has urged other states to come forward and help.
Inadequacy of Relief Efforts
Even as the government and non governmental agencies have sprung into action to offer support and relief, any hope of safely evacuating everyone and re-establishing communication channels with the affected areas remains a far cry.
Asma Shah, who lives in Leeds, United Kingdom has her family along with 7 other related families trapped in the valley and she is doing the most she can by calling forÂ volunteers online and spreading information since there is no possibility of knowing about the on ground information in real time.
Complaining about the carelessness on the part of authorities, she says “In our case, no warning was given. No flood alert was relayed and immediate evacuation didn’t happen. In time rescue efforts could have helped mitigate the calamity that it has become now. Also, we hear there are no boats or rafts even now with the Army or any authority, to help evacuate people.”
Similar sentiments have been echoed by many other people who also blame poor infrastructure for the calamity. Flimsy barriers which broke off and let the water loose into streets are being questioned by those affected.
“If precautions would’ve been taken earlier, situation wouldn’t have been so grim. People were not well aware. The areas affected by the flood are mostly districts in south Kashmir which include Anantnag, Pulwama, Baramulla, Sopore and people here weren’t aware of how worse things could turn out to be. It was the government’s duty to make sure that people would vacate these areas before Jhelum started overflowing. Jhelum flows above the danger mark in these areas,” Saima Hussain whose friends and family are stuck there, told us.
How You Can Help
Social media has again proved invaluable in spreading information and disseminating latest happenings. Twitter is abuzz with the hashtag #KashmirFloods carrying real time reports, pictures and survivor stories while Facebook is proving useful in sharing news of missing families and bringing conversations at one place.
A Facebook page to organize and mobilize volunteers has come up and people are actively donating and interacting to help in whatever way possible.
Another way to help is by sending in boats, as described to by Suvaid Yaseen. “I got a call from a self-help group for Kashmir flood victims saying that the only thing that they require as of now are boats. People are stranded in large numbers and the only thing they are lacking is rescue, which might be possible through boats.
The only way which seems doable as of now is to buy them in Delhi and send them by air tomorrow to Srinagar. From Srinagar airport people will manage to get them. We are trying to look for places where we can buy rafting boats,” he says.
Donations can also be made directly to Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for search and rescue operations. You can also check out this list of requirements and dispatch them with the fastest possible channel to the affected areas. See the list of collection points here.
Goonj has also started the Rahat Floods Campaign to collect support from people. You can have a look at the details here.
Google and Government of India have together launched a person finder tool which reports on the probable locations of those missing here or on SMS using the following query:
Asim Banday and few other volunteers are collecting ABSOLUTE ESSENTIALS like medicines, blankets, drinking water, life
jackets, boats to help mitigate the calamity of Jammu and Kashmir flooding. Please contribute. You can contact them at:
For the Indian Army’s official list of rescued persons, please visit their official page here.
Krishna Das points out that Aircel and other network providers have tied up in J&K and you can switch to Aircel 3G from any SIM by going to Settings>Network>Manual Search and the network will work on all SIM cards.
In case you are aware of any other relief efforts please post here and we will compile it into this post. Please share this across all of your networks to ensure all help reaches those who require aid as swiftly as possible.