SRINAGAR: Seven breaches in about 500 meter stretch of Jhelum’s serpentine embankment devastated Shivpora here on the night of September 6, leaving the posh residential locality in ruins.
Against the thumb rule usually followed to minimize the devastation by flood in Jhelum, the river breached its right embankment behind Shivpora well ahead of the curvaceous point where it is conjoined to the flood channel.
One after the other, Jhelum made openings, most of them 20 to 30 feet long, in the bank at seven spots. And the water flowed through the residential area with, what locals describe as, frightening pace and sound.
“The first breach occurred on Saturday (September 6) evening. Top officials of police were at the spot monitoring it and they asked us not to worry. Accordingly, we didn’t evacuate,” many residents living close the bank and witness to the devastation told Kashmir Reader Tuesday.
“During the night, the volume of water in Jhelum started to increase. And then it breached the embankment at six more spots, sending a wall of water into our residential area with never-seen-before pace and sound. It seemed like the river gave up its normal course and started flowing through our area,” they said.
The water had accumulated in the residential area slowly till about midnight, letting the people shift to top floors of their houses or into taller residential or commercial structures in the neighbourhood.
“Water was in our lawn when I went out to check the situation after dinner,” said a resident Mohammad Amin.
“Having no experience of flood, we thought water would rise up to only a few feet. More as a precaution, we shifted to the upper storey of our three-storey house, and slept. Then sudden inflow of water after midnight woke us up. And in what seemed a jiffy, our ground floor was submerged with water moving into the second storey,” he recollected.
Close to the breaches, the water razed to ground the old structures and demolished the fences of almost all commercial and residential structures. According to the residents, at least eight houses collapsed in first few hours after the breaches.
Now, three weeks after the water has receded, Shivpora presents a picture of devastation. On either side of its lanes and by-lanes, the old structures have turned into rubble occupying the streets; the fencing of the buildings has disappeared; and the car in the compounds still bear signs of submersion. Having lost their homes, few families continue to live in tents close to the banks while concrete houses are still abandoned.
The government has started dewatering of the still-submerged spots using machinery of the Fire and Emergency Services. The damaged electricity transformers have been removed for repair.
Recently, the locals said, a team of the government had arrived in the area to assess the losses.