India

Emergency Flood Relief in Assam

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Written by Mr. Peniel Malakar

Friday, 05 August 2011 11:52

Floods in Assam has become an annual phenomena and series of discussions in various circles remain ineffective to mitigate and reduce pravelent disaster risks. The government has agreed a few years ago to Assam’s sorrow as a National Problem. Yet Assam’s tears continue.

Continuous rainfall during the last week in Assam has led to a serious threat with floods. Villages in North Lakhimpur and Dhemaji has been worst affected with all rivers flowing much above danger levels. Subansiri, Ranganadi, Dikrong, Baginadi, Pabha, Kakoi, Johing and other rivers have taken dangerous shape with their waters drowning hundreds of villages around.

Flood waters have wiped away the ten crore rupees western end bridge over Ranganadi River on the National Highway 52. Hundreds of commuters and vehicles have been put on sudden halt due to this bridge being washed away, creating huge inconvenience and cutting off the region from the rest of the world. Besides incessant rain, the news on North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) releasing the flood gates of its hydroelectric site to save the project site from devastation has been doing the round, to be another major caused of this flood.

More than 2 lakhs population displaced. A huge number of animals including cattle have been reported to be killed already in the floods so far, which is set to create a huge loss for local farming communities.

A major threat is still hanging on the local residents with as many as 293 out of 423 embankments on Assam Rivers to prevent floods have been reported to have been very old with greater potentials of breaking down anytime under pressure of the water currents, bringing a threat to millions of people living in the state.

In North Lakhimpur alone, 65,300 people have been said to have been affected by flood in 65 villages. This is the official figure and as it is being believed that the number would be much more.

The flood situation in Assam is expected to grow more threatening and grim. Relief and rescue operations are the need of the hour from both the Government and civil societies.

EHA's response to this calamity:

Emmanuel Hospital Association's (EHA) Disaster Management & Mitigation Unit (DMMU) immediately acted based on the initial SITREP received from Sphere India and other sources. The Emergency Officer was sent to attend the first IAG-Assam emergency meeting held on 20th July 2011 in Guwahati, Assam. Following this the team of 2 persons rushed to North Lakhimpur and then Dhemaji district for initial assessments.

20th July 2011. The Disaster Management & Mitigation Unit responded to the floods that displaced more than 2 lakhs population in Assam. The assessment team rushed to the flood affected districts of Lakhimpur and Dhemaji on 20th July 2011. After initial assessments and closely interacting with local Circle Officers, district administration and local community leaders from the affected villages, the team zeroed in to support villages under North Lakhimpur District. The primary reasons for this decision is that no relief has reached in the villages except for one time ration from local administration.

Following spot assessements, the team finally zeroed in Gelahati, Dhekiajuli and Sonapur villages under Nowboicha Revenue Circle while adding Rangcharli in Lakhimpur Circle later. The initial plan was to provide ready to eat meals but closely interacting with the flood victims it was found that the immediate need is dry food ration. The initial ration provided by the State government (Rice-4 kgs; Dal- 600 gms; Salt 400 gms) was insufficient as the villagers lost all they had.

30th July to 2nd August 2011. Special attention was given to desolate groups such as persons with disabilities (PWD) and widowers. The following relief materials were provided by EHA to 1000 flood affected families in 4 villages.

Relief packet contents-

  • Fine Rice – 35 kgs
  • Mansoor Dal – 2 kgs
  • Mustard oil – 2 ltrs
  • Dandi Salt – 2 kgs
  • Goodday Chili powder – 400 gms
  • Goodday Turmeric powder – 400 gms
  • Morteim mosquito coils – 2 pkts
  • Bani medium candles – 2 pkts
  • Chabi match – 2 boxes
  • Plastic buckets 9ltrs – 1 pc
  • Water purifying tablets – 60 tabs

NEICORD joined EHA relief team on 29th July 2011 and added the following materials to the same families:

  1. Regular medium mosquitto net – 1 pc
  2. Dettol soap standard– 3 pcs
  3. Mosquito repellant cream – 1 pc

Village wise relief distribution plan:

Date - 30th July to 2nd August 2011

Location - Families - Desolates

Gelahati - 119 - 18

Sonapur - 445 - 52

Dhekiajuli - 268 - 37

Rangcharli - 61 -

Total - 893 - 107

The emergency relief operation was based at Baptist Christian Hospital, Tezpur, Assam. The Core Relief Team handled the overall relief operation from the Relief Center located at Lakhimpur Town. The members of Core Relief Team are as follows:

Mr. D. Basumatari. Deputed from BCH, Tezpur. Chairperson.

Mr. John Kerketa. Representative of local community.

Mr. RK Shem. DMMU Representative.

Mr. Cornelius Ngade. Emergency Relief Officer.

Mr. Luis Besra and Mr. Richard (both were trained DMMU) joined ERO Mr. Cornelius Ngade right from the beginning while 12 volunteers from local churches joined the team.

Cornelius writes, “I thank all concerned people who directly or indirectly involved in this work praying for the team and the whole task of reaching out to the people who are in need, but were not really attended to, could be successfully accomplished because of their support and the untiring efforts of the team”.

We thank BGR and TF for supporting this relief.