With waters receding, the immediate focus remains on managing relief centres and provide shelter for survivors.

As the water recedes Shivamogga residents come to grips with damage
news Floods Monday, August 12, 2019 - 19:23

As the rains reduced in Karnataka's Shivamogga district, residents came to terms with the damage caused in the past week. 

It was on Thursday that the water level in the Tunga river reached 28 feet setting off alarm bells for the district administration.

The water level is usually at 22-24 feet but within twelve hours between Friday and Saturday, the water rose further to 35 feet prompting district officials to begin evacuations in areas close to the river.

"This is unprecedented. As soon as we got information that water may be released, we immediately mobilised teams and sent them to over 35 areas in the city to evacuate people,” Shivamogga City Corporation Commissioner Charulatha Somal told TNM.

Twenty-nine boats were pressed into service to rescue around 1,400 people after the rains on Friday made it clear that the Tunga river would overflow and flood low-lying areas of Shivamogga. But the efforts to evacuate people was initially met with resistance.

“Many refused to move despite our best efforts and later made SOS calls to us in the middle of the night. They had to be rescued by boat as water levels rose by then,” Charulatha added.

The Shivamogga city administration received at least 300 calls asking for help in rescue by Saturday.  

When TNM met some of those sheltered in the relief camps, they admitted the initial reluctance by people to move from their homes. 

"Announcements were made at night in our area but initially people refused to leave thinking it is unlikely to flood. We receive high rainfall every year. But it was soon clear that this year it was different and the water would rise to a level we have never seen before," Rahman (35), a resident Mandakki Batti, a low lying area in Shivamogga, explained.

Officials, responding to the rising water levels, decided to shift Rahman and others affected to relief centres. 

A 10-member Civil Defence team was drafted in and rescue efforts were intensified on Friday and Saturday. An NDRF team was also called in for rescue operations in the district.

Around 2,500 families were displaced in Shivamogga and so far, there have been no deaths reported in Shivamogga City due to the floods. The district has seen three casualties as a result of the floods.

The deaths reported in the district occurred in outlying areas like Hosanagara and Thirthahalli, where rising water levels blocked road connectivity and flooded paddy fields. 

Around 150 public buildings were affected in Shivamogga while more than 70 per cent of the city's road drains infrastructure was damaged partially or completely. About two thousand people are camped in 15 relief centers that had opened.

Much to the relief of the residents, water levels in the Tunga river receded on Sunday to below 28 feet. Officials in the district are now looking ahead to the arduous task of rebuilding houses and resettling displaced survivors.

Officials will now assess the damage and begin dispensing compensation amounts for those who have partially or completely lost their homes. There are also plans to clean public places in the city, provide free health checkups and re-issue lost or damaged documents.

But the immediate focus remains on managing relief centers and provide shelter for survivors. Donation centres are seeking a list of items including sanitary pads, warm clothes, towels, shoes among other items. 

Donors can reach Sunil (9448525350) to send relief material.

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