When the Rain Gods were angry….
This last week has been the most chaotic week in memory, not just my memory, but Mumbai’s memory as well. In brief, on Tuesday, 26th July, it rained, and rained like hell…and that’s putting it mildly. Never before had Mumbai recieved 900mm (yes!) rainfall ina period of 24 hours. Entire neighbourhoods went under 9 feet of water in the suburbs like Borivli and Dahisar, and water logging was rampant through out the city. BEST buses (public transport) sank, small cars were completely submerged and sometimes swayed and flung about in swift water…the local train service was suspended and phone lines were jammed. There was no power for a day or so, to avoid short circuiting and electrocutions….
Thats the bigger picture.
As for me, I was on my way home from IIT as it rained. Incidentally, the bus I take comes through Aarey Colony, a lush green region that has 4 rivers flowing through it….great every single one was flooded….and though my bus didn’t sink…we were stalled for about 3 hours…cellphones were jammed and I decided to walk. As the picture shows, Aarey colony is a beautiful place in this weather…so I was lookin forward to a nice stroll out…
A few seconds out of the bus in the pouring rain and I became aware of the magnitude of what was happening…cars and bikes were swept of the road in gushing water…and people formed a human chain through the swift water. I wanted to take some cool pictures of the scene but the force of the water was too much and without a steady foothold I was in no mood to try and take pictures… So in waist high water I trudged along slowly…through all four rivers until I came to the Western Express Highway…where the road I came from was marked closed and there was general commotion. Apparently, water was the problem everywhere. I walked towards home about 10 km from that point …and along the way I saw landslides…boulders as big as trucks had come crashing down…and a foot of water on the roads was the standard everywhere…
Closer to home, is the Mahindra and Mahindra Factory, which usually has a lot of brand new Jeeps parked in their factory lots. Not that day, all I could see was water…I could manage to take a snap.
And then I took more as I walked some from Kandivli ….overturned cars, flooding, drains overflowing…people in the middle of it…the whole deal.
And here is a whole wall and part of road that got washed away with the water..
The worst affected were people in the slums …
When I came home, there was no power of course…and someone was stuck in the elevator….it was impossible to call anyone…the fire brigade flatly told us that there were poeple drowning and they could only come when it was all taken care off..Cant blame ’em. The guy from the lift company finally did arrive , drenched and had lost is bike in the water….sunk into a drain…literally.
The radio stations kept people entertained and informed all through, especially those who were on the roads, stuck in traffic jams that didnt move till the next day. radio news told us that the airport was closed, flights diverted….all trains coming in were halted outside Mumbai …roads leading out of Mumbai, including the famous Mumbai-Pune Expressway was closed due to numerous landslides…and with phone lines and internet services down…Mumbai was closed to the world.
Fortunately, my bro reached home relatively quickly..since his college is nearby…..so was Dad was home that day…So it was good for us…over the next two days, I heard from friends about being trapped in chest high water in a BEST bus (Shraddha)…walking on the rail tracks to get home(Zankruti), walking from Dadar to Thane…thats about 30KM …(Amar). And almost every second person had his home flooded…
My Dad’s Uncle had his entire bungalow submerged in water…he’s lost everything (quite literally) and gained a foot high layer of silt in his house. and is staying with us now…he got lucky and wasnt home that day….and neither was his daughter.
In some places, the death toll is still rising..Mumbai is back on track…but its still reeling from the aftermath…Even three days later…a 747 skidded off the runway on Mumbai airport and onto the grass because of the excessive water….no casualties though.
What this revelaed though is the spirit of Mumbai…on the roads, any car that had space in it would stop and collect the stranded from the roads. People were helping each other as the emergency services were strained…those at home distributed food and water on the roads to those trapped in the 15 hour traffic jam…volunteers helped divert some traffic away from flooded areas and human chains were formed around drains to prevent people from getting sucked in the tremendous water flow there….
Of late, I had started getting tired of Mumbai’s hectic lifestyle, but this little adventure and the human spirit here has reminded me why I love this city so much….nothing can bring its people down. 🙂
Update : Amar has written a good blog with news links …and coincidentally chosen a similar title :). To visit his blog look in the blogs section on the right.