Uttarakhand floods: Nature's fury evident in towns

Uttarakhand floods: Nature's fury evident in towns

Uttarakhand floods: Nature's fury evident in towns

As extraordinary tales of survival and courage emerge from Uttarkhand, a sense of anxiety over the devastation brought on by nature's onslaught seems to have drenched some of the affected towns.

On the way up from Dehradun to Guptkashi, the destruction along the river bank, on the roads and dwellings of locals is clearly visible.

At Devprayag, where the Alaknanda meets the Mandakini to flow on as the Ganga, one can see a high white border all along the embankment. From the road, this mark seems to be over 10 feet, evident of how high the flood waters reached.

Anything resembling a manmade structure within a height of 10-15 feet from the river bank is either broken or has been swept away. Among them, a river rafting campsite close to Srinagar where the jetty and a wooden cabin were washed away.

The river bank too wears a wounded look. Rocks scattered around in untidy heaps, entire trees lying uprooted, houses and bathing ghats totally wiped out.

There is hardly a stretch of road from Dehradun to Guptkashi which is not strewn with boulders and pebbles that had rolled down the slopes. At some places, these obstacles caused traffic bottlenecks lasting for as long as an hour.

Tilwari, on the route to Guptkashi, wears a deserted look in the afternoon. The town which is a hub for the annual Kedarnath pilgrimage is eerily quiet.
The Alaknanda flowing by its side appears to have taken a toll on the residents here. Passing through, the only soul visible is a single policeman at a street corner.

Onwards, it is a procession of roads torn open and broken embankments. The tragedy seems not just for the pilgrims but also for the locals.

Many had relatives working in the tourism business, running tours or managing shops in Kedarnath, including hoteliers of Guptkashi. Several of these kin are 'missing', a byword for perished.

"Those that manged to escape the torrents released by the cloudburst were ultimately okay. If they succeeded in hanging on in the surrounding jungles (of Kedarnath), chances are they have been or will be rescued. It is difficult to say anything about those that were caught in the cascade," ASI Chand Singh of the Seventh NDRF battalion from Bhatinda in Punjab said.

Singh was coordinating his team's operations from the relief camp at the Government Inter College in Guptkashi.

The rescue efforts, which gathered steam on June 20, was on in full flow yesterday. The stream of survivors ferried to Rishikesh by buses and SUVs requisitioned by the Dehradun RTO was constant.

Choppers too have been bringing the survivors to Guptkashi and Narayan Kothi after they were rescued from Kedarnath and taken to either Fhata, Gaurikund or Son Prayag.

However, rain clouds gathered ominously around Guptkashi in the morning.

There was palpable nervous anxiety at the Inter College camp. Not just the pilgrims, but tour operators and cab drivers look worried.

"We have to get out of here today," one of them said. At 7.30 AM, he was out looking for the RTO pointsman here.

"I need to quickly find out who I am to carry back and leave here as soon as possible. Lord only knows what will happen if the rain begins again," he said.