What remains when waters from what has been described as the “worst flood in a century” recede after wreaking havoc for three days? In Gujarat’s Banaskantha district, residents are left with is sludge, stench, fear and the clawing pain of loss.
Unexpected floods in Gujarat have killed at least 224 people since mid-July. The northern district of Banaskantha has been worst-hit, with 58 deaths and counting. The deluge was triggered by the unusual formation of low-pressure zones in the Arabian sea off Gujarat as well as the Bay of Bengal, causing torrential rains in Central and North Gujarat (and floods in parts of eastern India as well).
From July 23 to 25, Banaskantha and its neighbouring districts received a record 257 mm of rainfall, which is almost half its annual average rainfall. Overflowing dams and rivers caused flood waters to storm into hundreds of farms and villages across the region. In the week since the deluge began, disaster management teams from the Centre, state government and the Armed Forces have rescued more than 17,000 people and evacuated more than 1.3 lakh citizens from low-lying areas.
In neighbouring Ranakpur village, Vajaji Thakor and his family went back to the debris of their house a few days after the flood waters began to recede on July 26, hoping to salvage the sacks of bajra they had grown.
On the night of July 23, the 10-member family had waded out of neck-deep water with nothing but the clothes they were wearing and their children hoisted on their shoulders. When they got to higher ground, they set up camp on an empty patch of ground off the state highway, where they have been living ever since
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