Flood: Couple atop tree thought bodies won't be found

People from Kabalapur village inspect the collapsed house of Kadappa. DH Photos/Pushkar V

This man with a limp not only survived for four days in the middle of a raging river but also ensured the safety of his wife who was injured when their house collapsed. 

And as Kadappa approaches Urabinahatti, the awe of his tale of survival increases exponentially. 

Kadappa and his wife Ratnavva, in their 30s, were employed to oversee a small farm cultivating mangoes and brinjal near Kabalapur village. Living in a makeshift house-cum-shed at the farm between Ballari Nala of Malaprabha river and a stream, he was wary that relentless downpour would make it difficult for him to get to safety.

"We knew by evening that getting out would be difficult as the small stream in front of the house had swollen massively along with the Ballari Nala behind us. By night, the stream and the canal merged and water entered the house. It was a matter of time before we were washed away," he said.

From the night of August 5 till they were rescued on August 9, the couple had one meal and hung on to their lives. "As the water continued to rise and with no one to our rescue, we spent a night on a small attic at the house. Once the water reached the attic, we sat on the roof while the flood raged and rain poured. We couldn't call anyone because our phone got washed away."


Kadappa who was rescued from his house by boat at Kabalapur narrates his harrowing experience at Urabinahatti village. | DH Photo: Pushkar V

On the third day, around noon, the house collapsed injuring his wife in the leg. Wading in waist-deep water in the rubble, Kadappa - despite his disability -  tied his wife with a rope and pulled her up to the nearest mango tree. "If the house had collapsed on the second day, we’d be dead as the current would have washed us away. Because water levels had dropped a bit, we were able to survive," he said. 

The couple stayed on the tree for a night and a day, even as an announcement was made by the government that they would be rescued, using any means necessary.

Rescuing the couple was not an easy job, according to locals. "We thought a helicopter would rescue them. But, they sent a boat,” said Huliappar, a resident of Kabalapur. The rescue boat was caught in the water current and it took the NDRF personnel half-a-day to reach the couple. “If not for the mango grove, the boat itself may have been washed away and required rescuing,” Huliappar said. 

"Poor chap has nothing now. His house in the village is in a shambles. It's a miracle the couple survived the floodwaters," said Ningangouda Patil, a resident of Urabinahatti village.

Kadappa, who is still mildly shocked at the turn of events, credits their survival to the divine. Ratnavva is currently recuperating at her native place, while Kadappa, out of hospital, is waiting to go back to work as a labourer. 

“Several times during the four days we were stuck, we thought even our bodies will not be found," he said.

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