Thangai VS Annan
Thirty one people were killed in the flash floods in Uttarakhand on 4.08.2012 and at least six missing from Gangori, which bore the brunt of nature’s fury.
Heart-wrenching scenes were witnessed at Gangori, where the maximum number of deaths was reported, with relatives and villagers crying for help.
Efforts were on to move about 700 Char Dham pilgrims stranded at various places to safer spots on foot, as the roads were completely damaged and the hostile weather was not allowing airlifting of the people.
The State government released Rs. 20 crore from the disaster mitigation fund for immediate relief work and urged civil society organisations to rush help to the victims.
The weather department has sounded an alert for heavy rains and flash floods.
Returning after an aerial survey with Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Agriculture Harish Rawat, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna issued instructions to immediately restore power supply, drinking water and road connectivity in Uttarkashi and surrounding areas.
“Adequate food supplies are available and the officials have been ordered to provide ‘pocket money’ of Rs. 2,700 per family besides cooked food and dry rations. Doctors have been asked to provide medical aid to the victims,” Mr. Bahuguna said.
Earlier, presiding over a high level disaster management and mitigation meeting, he ordered the officials to immediately restore the road link between Bhatwari and Uttarkashi, erect makeshift bridges wherever required, restore power and telephone lines.
Ex gratia announced
Mr. Bahuguna announced an ex gratia of Rs. 3 lakh to the next of kin of those killed, Rs.1 lakh each to the owners of nearly 200 houses damaged completely and Rs.1 lakh each to the over 50 shopkeepers who lost everything in the flood fury. ITBP jawans were trying to provide relief to the residents of the worst-hit Mathali village.
Disaster Management Minister Yashpal Arya, who visited the area, could not proceed beyond Chinyalisaud as the roads were either completely damaged or washed away.
Meanwhile, Shanti Kunj Haridwar dispatched a 35-member team including an ambulance, doctors and specially trained volunteers to Uttarkashi on 05.08.2012. The team is carrying over 50 quintals of food grains, medicines, clothes, utensils kit, tea, sugar, clothes, kerosene, a portable generator and water.
The team will create a base camp at Uttarkashi, conduct a quick survey with the help of local Gayatri Parivar members and distribute the material, Gauri Shankar Sharma, manager Shanti Kunj said.
The relief and rescue operations are being supervised by Shail Didi and Pranab Pandya, international heads of Gayatri Parivar.
Flood and Flash flood
Flood: An overflow of water onto normally dry land. The inundation of a normally dry area caused by rising water in an existing waterway, such as a river, stream, or drainage ditch. Ponding of water at or near the point where the rain fell. Flooding is a longer term event than flash flooding: it may last days or weeks.
Flash flood: A flood caused by heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally less than 6 hours. Flash floods are usually characterized by raging torrents after heavy rains that rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them. They can occur within minutes or a few hours of excessive rainfall. They can also occur even if no rain has fallen, for instance after a levee or dam has failed, or after a sudden release of water by a debris or ice jam.
Worst flash flood so far: 1889: Johnstown Flood, more than 2,200 people dead.
The United States National Weather Service gives the advice “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” for flash floods; that is, it recommends that people get out of the area of a flash flood, rather than trying to cross it. Many people tend to underestimate the dangers of flash floods. What makes flash floods most dangerous is their sudden nature and fast moving water. A vehicle provides little to no protection against being swept away; it may make people overconfident and less likely to avoid the flash flood. More than half of the fatalities attributed to flash floods are people swept away in vehicles when trying to cross flooded intersections.As little as 2 feet (0.61 m) of water is enough to carry away most SUV-sized vehicles. The U.S. National Weather Service reported in 2005 that, using a national 30-year average, more people die yearly in floods, 127 on average, than by lightning (73), tornadoes (65), or hurricanes.
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