15 relief camps have been opened to shelter over 2,500 people across the district.

 How can we outrun water Shivamogga residents evacuated amidst relentless rain
news Floods Saturday, August 10, 2019 - 09:40

Friday started like any other day for Rahman and his family, residents of Mandakki Batti colony.

Rahman ekes out a living by selling puffed rice but in the last two days, he admits, talk of his business has ceased in his household. "The water level on our street was steadily rising so we concentrated our efforts on collecting all the important papers and family photos in our house so that we are ready to move at a moment's notice," he says, before adding, "We had made plans in advance but how can we outrun water?"

As the rains continued to lash in Shivamogga and water entered his house, Rahman's family of eight decided to shift to the relief camp that had opened in a Ram temple near their house.

The family's plight is similar to hundreds of people living in low-lying areas in Shivamogga city and other parts of the district after unrelenting rains prompted district authorities to intensify evacuation efforts and open relief camps in the district.

Relief camps opened

15 relief camps have been opened - 7 in Shivamogga, 6 in Soraba, 1 in Bhadravati and 1 in Theerthahalli. More than 2500 people are currently sheltered in the relief camps. 

Three villages in Soraba taluk - Shakunahalli, Ballibailu and Thuvilikoppa - are marooned and residents have been evacuated while those residing in Hosanagara and Theerthahalli are grappling with rising water levels. 60 villages have been affected and more than 340 houses have been damaged due to the rains.

"We began rescue operations in Shivamogga and Sagar today but waterlogging on the route connecting villages is hampering our efforts. This is stagnant water and we are using boats to rescue people in these areas," explained Vinay Kedar, a Civil Defence official part of a 10-member team involved in rescue operations. 

One death was reported on Thursday after 65-year-old Rathnamma was washed away in the waters.

This was the only death reported on Thursday

Water-logging hampers rescue efforts

Water-logging has blocked roads connecting Theerthahalli and Shivamogga, Hosanagara and Udupi, Shikaripura and Anantpura, and Soraba and Jade.

The highest rainfall was reported in Hosanagara (230 mm) and the red warning issued in the district has been extended up to Sunday. Even though Shivamogga district receives ample rainfall every year, residents agree that this year's rainfall has been relentless and fierce, battering the villages along the Western Ghats. 

"We shifted around 150 people to a relief camp at the Ramana Shetty park as soon as we heard that water was entering people's houses. We are providing basic health care and two kits - one with kitchen items like rice and oil, and another with items like bedsheets, towels," says Manjanna SG, a volunteer.

Despite having the basic necessities, Rahman and his family are unsure if they can return to their home and begin rebuilding their lives.

"It rains every year here but this is not the case every year. If the municipal corporation does not make plans to prevent waterlogging in low-lying areas, this will occur every time there are rains", warns Rahman.

With more rains expected, district officials requested a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team to conduct rescue operations in the district. The NDRF team is currently on stand-by. 

Further cause for worry is the conditions at the Tunga and Linganamakki reservoir. While water levels at the Tunga reservoir have reached maximum capacity, the water levels at the Linganamakki reservoir has crossed 1,800 feet. The maximum limit of the reservoir is 1819 feet. 

Civil Defence personnel will conduct rescue operations in Thadagadale near Sagar on Saturday. "We are hoping that the rain recedes and we are able to reach villages by road itself," added Vinay. 

It is a hope shared by district officials, who have declared Saturday as a holiday, but expect the deputy commissioner's office to be a hive of activity to ensure that the rains and floods do not lead to further casualties.

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