Uttarakhand flash floods – A report
New Delhi, India
The flash floods triggered by very heavy rainfall and cloudburst in Uttarakhand on 16-17 June 2013, affected 12 out of the 13 districts in Uttarakhand. The 4 districts that were worst affected were Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh.
The deluge has washed away roads, bridges and other infrastructure. So far about 1000 deaths are reported and many are still reported missing. In Kedarnath alone about 75,000 pilgrims had been stranded due to landslides and flash floods.
In view of the devastating impact of the heavy rain fall in the state of Uttarakhand, Secretary General, Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) held a meeting on 18th June 2013 in his office with the senior officials from IRCS NHQ, IFRC and ICRC.The Indian Red Cross Society (National Head quarters) mounted an immediate response to the disaster by deploying relief and assessment teams to Dehradun, Uttarkashi, Rishikesh, Pithoragarh and Rudraprayag. Shri Gulam Nabi Azad, Hon’ble Chairman, IRCS (The Minister of Health and Family Welfare) flagged off the trucks carrying relief materials for the flood affected victims on 21st of June 2013.
Relief materials in the form of Non food items has been despatched to the Uttarakhand state branch by road for further distribution to the affected areas. Till date more than INR 2.2 crores worth of relief items has been sent.
Indian Red Cross responds to the Uttarakhand disaster
The Indian Red Cross responded to the Uttarakhand disaster by mobilising the National disaster response team (NDRT), Regional disaster response team (RDRT) and National disaster watsan response team (NDWRT) members who were alerted for possible deployment. The National headquarters despatched a two member team to Uttarakhand on the 19th June 2013 for carrying out assessment of the needs of the community in coordination with the officials of the Uttarakhand state Red Cross branch and to follow it with the organisation of relief work.
The General Secretary, Uttarakhand State Red Cross branch activated the Certified First Medical Responders (CFMRs) at the various districts of Uttarakhand. There are 151 trainers and more than 4500 CFMRs who are trained in First aid, psychosocial support, search and rescue, dead body management, PhiE etc with the Uttarakhand Red Cross state branch. A meeting with 30 CFMRs was held at Dehradun on the 19th June 2013.
The team deployed at Dehradun established contact with FMRs and Patwaris in these affected Districts and the FMRs prepared lists of people who were stranded in their region. The list had details about the place they were stranded in, the contact person they wanted to inform their whereabouts, a message they wished to convey, phone number etc. Around 50 such messages were delivered about these stranded people to their families that were waiting for information about their loved ones. A tracing request from Tamil Nadu was received regarding a group of pilgrims, their location was found out and medical assistance was organised for them. A meeting was held in state branch where around 30 volunteers participated who committed their time for relief operation activities. The NDRT team reached Uttarkashi on 21st June 2013 and met the 30 FMRs working since the day of disaster.
A high level team from the IFRC and National Headquarters consisting of the Head, IFRC; Deputy secretary, IRCS, NHQ and Advisor (DM) has also visited Uttarakhand for an on the spot analysis of the situation. IRCS is in close coordination with the Director (EMR), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for any requirement that may need to be addressed. On request, IRCS despatched 1600 body bags to Dehradun.
Relief materials in the form of 1050 Family tents (to accomodate upto 8 persons each), family packs (including kitchen sets, clothings, buckets etc.), stoves, lanterns and tarpaulins etc. worth INR 2,21,99,300 have been despatched to Uttarakhand.
A Red Cross camp has been set up near Vikas bhawan in Joshiyara, Uttarkashi. 40 tents have been erected and 24 families are at the camp presently. 35-40 CFMRs are working at Uttarkashi. Further as reported by the state branch FMR and Red Cross life members gave first aid, navigation assistance, medicines, etc to 1720 people. Assessment to document impact of floods on the local population is underway.
Another team of two National Disaster relief team members of the IRCS (NHQ) has been deployed at Pithoragarh on the request of the Secretary, Uttarakhand State RC Branch. The team went to BALWAKOT, NAYABASTHI, DARCHULA, GHOTI after walking for 5 – 8 km.The people are living in tents, administration is providing them ration. No major health issue has been reported. 5 FMRs are working in temporary shelters here since 17th June. Around 3000 people have been evacuated to safer places by ITBP. Mobile health unit has been set up by the government and Red Cross hospital at Balwakot is also functioning. A ’Restoring family links’ expert has reached Rudraprayag along with the NDWRT expert for assessment of needs and coordination in relief measures.
Daily review meetings are being held by the Secretary General in the control room set up at National Headquarters.