Assam Floods | A first-person account: The day a town drowned

by mcdix

The Hindu staff journalist writes about the grim situation in a southern Assam town ravaged by devastating floods. On June 20, the water started entering my house around 3:30 am. By late afternoon it had nearly reached the first floor. The Barak River in Silchar, the largest city in southern Assam, was flooded, and the causeway collapsed. On June 19, the Cachar district administration warned that water was entering the city. Step by step, the water rose rapidly, flooding parts of the town where the water had never stood since time immemorial. People knew a flood was imminent – it had only been a month since the district witnessed a devastating flood. But no one thought that this time the Flood would be one of the greatest ever.

Khirode Das, a businessman in Premtola, the city’s heart, lamented: “I am 76 years old. Never before has this area been flooded.” In southern Bihar, one of the worst-hit areas of the city, Bimala Nath, a housekeeper in her 60s, was in tears. On May 19, she had decided to stay the night with her relative, assuming she would go home the next morning to collect her valuables. She had done the same during the previous floods; the water came to her waist. She waded through the cold water to her house when the day came. The water level continued to rise. Then, she realized that her beloved almirah (wardrobe) was completely submerged. “The water was almost up to your head,” she said. Her small possessions, jewelry, a few saris collected over the years while working in people’s homes, and most importantly, her papers were now deep underwater.


Assam Floods

I have witnessed eight floods in Assam, but few have been as devastating as this one. On June 22, the third day of the flooding, I asked an army jawan if he had seen such rapids before as I waded through chest-deep water. “Yes, I have, in places where they do adventure sports. Yeh toh tabahi hain [This is a disaster],” he said. Villagers with relief supplies will return to their homes in a countryside boat in the flood-stricken Morigaon district of Assam on Tuesday, June 21, 2022. † Photo credits: RITU RAJ KANWAR I boarded an NDRF boat that went to my area for help and rescue. As we cleared the debris, the extent of the devastation began to become apparent. People stood on roofs, screaming for help, drinking water, and relief supplies. Small children and the elderly are trapped in their homes, without food and drinking water, with at least 3 meters of water in many places.

In an area where thousands were stranded, we had about 200 bottles to offer. We couldn’t reach many side roads of the Public School Road. The medicines we carried for an older adult stayed with us. The staff said the water current was so strong that the boat would capsize. A volunteer, Arup Chanda, recalled how the ship he was on had toppled over the previous day. He was bruised from head to toe. Still, he jumped into the water to rescue a stranded boy. When the boat returned to base, we left desperate cries for help with nothing but a promise that we would return with more supplies. As the Barak continues to devastate Silchar, there is a huge food and drinking water shortage. Although the administration works 24/7, there is a clear lack of coordination and insufficient relief supplies and rescue personnel.

You may also like