Flood horror haunts Srinagar, people abandon homes, shops

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Srinagar, March 30: Nisar Hussain, 65, who lives in the Gogjibagh residential area of Srinagar, repents his decision to have come back home after three months. For his 60-year-old wife and 27-year-old daughter, this has been the second uprooting after unprecedented floods hit Jammu and Kashmir last year.

When flood waters rose to the second floor of his house in September 2014, Nisar and his family remained trapped in the attic for three days before the army's rescue team came to move them out in motor boats.

Flood horror haunts Srinagar, again!

He and his family moved to a relative's house in old city area of Habba Kadal for two months. And then in December, after locking his flood ravaged house, Nisar shifted with family to Delhi where he lived for three months at a rented accommodation.

"I came back to my home after over three months. We started living on the first floor of our home as the ground floor still smells of flood and fungus," he told IANS.

A worried Nisar said that on Sunday night he had to quickly shift his family to Habba Kadal after flood alert was sounded by the authorities.

"This is a trauma. My daughter simply refused to live at Gogjibagh after the news about the water level rising in the Jhelum river was flashed on the TV news channels," he said.

"I would not have come back, had my daughter not to report for duty early this month. It is simply intolerable. What is this? We had floods in autumn, we have them in the spring now. Summers are otherwise also known for floods in Kashmir," he said.

Nisar is one of dozens of other families who have moved during the past three days in areas like Rajbagh, Jawahar Nagar, Wazir Bagh, and Gogjibagh. These localities bore the brunt of flood devastation in September 2014. Any downpour has been bad news for thousands of residents in these areas since September.

Ghulam Rasool, 56, another local who had come back to live in his flood hit home in Rajbagh, did not even wait for the authorities to warn him.

"I left everything behind and shifted out of my home along with my family hardly four hours after it looked the rain was unending during Saturday night," he recalled.

Shopkeepers in the once posh and fashionable Residency Road, Lal Chowk and Maisuma commercial hubs started shifting their merchandise since Sunday morning, loading goods on big and small load carriers depending on the stocks in their shops.

These commercial areas of the city had remained submerged under flood waters for over 20 days in September 2014 even after the water level had receded to normal in the Jhelum river.

"Once bitten is twice shy. But I don't think there is a proverb about somebody's state of mind who is bitten twice. I have still been redoing the windows and showcases of my shop and here is another disaster staring straight into my eyes. This is maddening," said Altaf Ahmad, 54, who owns a shop on Residency Road in Srinagar.

What has made matters worse is anti-social elements posting last year's flood pictures showing inundated homes and areas. These posts on social networking sites, claiming these pictures were recent, have caused panic.

Authorities have asked people living close to the Jhelum to exercise extreme caution. The massive waterlogging in the city has created a flood like situation in roads, bylanes and markets.

People wading in knee-deep water and vehicles suffering mechanical failure is a common sight in the city.

Naeem Akhtar, a senior minister in the ruling coalition, says the water table is already high due to last year's floods and a downpour is enough to choke the drainage system in Srinagar.

It stopped raining in the state since Monday morning and the weather office has said there would be decrease in precipitation.

"But, another Western Disturbance is likely to hit the state on April 3 although it would not be so active as the present one that resulted in heavy rainfall during the last three days," Sonam Lotus, director of the local weather office said.

Authorities have said there has been no breach in the river embankment anywhere in the valley and since the rainfall has stopped, water levels in rivers and streams would start coming down from Tuesday.

These assurances, however, mean little to people who have been living on the edge since the September 2014 floods ravaged their lives as another is looming large over them.

IANS

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