The Night of Nature's Fury I Can Not Forget
Mumbai Under The Water
It was 26th July 2005. It all started in the afternoon without any warning. It was raining. It was just pouring like never before. I was out of the office on business meeting. When I saw black sky pouring on ground and offices started shutting down. I was close to my home just 3 km away. I wanted to take a taxi but there were no taxis on road. I saw a city bus coming, fully crowded, I decided to board it. It was crawling , because of traffic jam and water on road. Water levels was going up.
Peoples are walking on the road and traffic is almost stalled. So I, as everybody else decided to get out of the bust and started walking on road. It was raining furiously. Water level is rising and roads were flooded. I reach very close to my home, road was overcrowded and nothing was moving.
I saw the Death
It was evening, it was raining heavily, I was standing very close to a bridge for Mithi River. Peoples were standing and trying to cross the bridge. It was over flown. The flow is almost 2 feet or more and it was increased to 3 feet above the bridge. The speed of the water was very high, few able bodied with strong will are trying to cross it, few succeeded and many came back. The water level was increasing, I saw a man with two of his sons, carrying on both of his shoulders, very young kids of 4 and 6 years. He wanted to cross the bridge and every one there told him “Please don’t take chances, speed of water is very high, and you have two kids with you. He argued he was very good swimmer and extremely good athlete and had long experience.”
I saw him going in water stream, which I myself could not dare to cross in those conditions.We saw him in the almost middle of the bridge. He lost balance because of flow and one of kid fell from shoulder. He tried to hold the kid and lost control of the second kid as well. He was crying and shouting for help and there are strong and able bodied who tried to hold them but time was too short and in few seconds they were far from the reach of any one flowing and gone into the river. We saw him crossing alone crying and it was very difficult to console him. He was not even willing to go home from the spot, water continued to rise and sometime in the dark some body took him home.
Shelter in the Cyber Café
Water was pouring from sky. Water was three feet above the ground. I decided to take shelter in Cyber Cafe I knew the shop keeper as use to be his regular visitor. Shutter was open. Few other friends also took shelter there. Then the light was gone. We were sitting on chairs, when water started to enter the shop, it was 7 PM in the evening. All PC’s were unplugged and shifted to upper floor.. Water levels were still going up. It was 10 PM our chairs were in the water, we decided to go up. We put our chair on table and sat on them, by midnight our table were in the water. It was almost 7 feet from ground level. We were praying, it was dark, our candles are almost finished and nowhere to move. We decided if water lever further increase we would put table on table to be safe. But after another 10 minutes, rainfall slowed down and increasing water level was stopped. It was 1 am, the water level started to go down. It was 3 am in the morning when rains stopped and we decided to look out, so we saw thousands peoples on road. A construction of commercial complex was going on, the guard opened the premises for the stranded peoples on road. It was full with men and women all anxious to know what was happening. I made my last call to my wife around 9.30 PM then telephone line gone, no more communication. I decided to cross the bridge around 5 AM in the morning, before dawn. Some local residents and volunteers put trucks to support the people crossing the bridge. Even though water level was almost 5 feet , the flow did not have power and furry. There were ropes on both sides to hold. I was in the mid of the bridge, I was tightly holding the rope the water was almost to my neck. I made it successfully so many more with me. I reached home almost 5.30 AM after watching the furry of the nature.
Mumbai Never Stops
Stories of Horror
One of the friends who started from his office in the evening he reached home in the morning by 9 am. He had this story, they were seven friends together when journey began. It was around 7 pm. The heavy rain was going on and water level started going up very fast. The speed of flow of water was very high. Suddenly one of the friend lost control and gone, never seen again. This was first of them to washed away, in this way he lost 4 of his friends in one night journey of 4 kilometers. Three of them reached home after almost 12 hours of difficult journey.
One of my father’s friends stayed whole night on bus roof top, there are many more with him. He reached our home in the afternoon next day; because we were close and he cannot go home which was far away. They were fortunately rescued by fire brigade.
There are others who are not fortunate enough to be rescued. In the some areas water raised to 8 to 10 feet and more and even those who were on the roof top of a bus waiting for rescue, before someone can rescue them washed away.
In some areas water was up to first floor. Kapadia Nagar and Air India colony was the two areas which were most affected. The water in these areas was up to 12 feet, first floor was completely submerged in the water and everything was lost. It took more than three days to decrease the water level. It was almost one month when they were able to reach the home and clean it up, by that time everything was lost.
The Big Bang
It was in the afternoon; suddenly I heard a loud sound. The sound was from direction of nearby slum on hill top. It was real big noise, and suddenly the hill came down crumbling. It was land slide, which had buried small huts below it. Before rescue teams could arrive, local people started effort to save the lives of buried people. Still the toll was big, almost 257 people buried alive. This was official numbers and no one really know how many more were there. Whole families were buried. No one there to claim the dead bodies and knew who they were.
The rescue efforts of the local people were remarkable; they started with hands and whatever available and saved many lives, a mother and her 6 months old baby. An old man who did not wanted to live after he saw all his relatives died in the accident.
Three Days without Water and Electricity
I decided to see my relatives who are staying nearby and on ground floor. When I went there it was like big family, everyone knew each other and neighbors coming and telling stories about night of horror. Water was almost 2 feet in the ground floor. They were trying to remove it. Rain had stopped, still it took them two days to clean it, and water was coming from below the floor.
There were no electricity and no water. Many peoples walked kilometers to reach home. Almost all railway stations were under water trains started only after 2 days and many areas remained cut off for weeks. The electricity came back on third day and water supply after 5 days. During this time the best source of water was harvesting rain water, which was pouring continuously.
Mumbai Never Stops
Even after this powerful blow, Mumbai came back to work next day and everything started back in 3 days, even though many areas remained under water. Many more areas were out of reach but Mumbai came back to life.
Stories of Humanity
In this furry of nature, Mumbai lived to its reputation of City with Kind hearted people. Where I was stranded and stayed all night, i.e. a Cyber Café, there was a commercial complex, a very big project which was completed but not finished. The owner opened the door for the thousands people. Thousands stranded Mumbaikars took shelter there, but this was not the only example , there were many heart breaking examples of people who helped others to reach their home.
Those who were living in the nearby areas cooked some food and gave it to those who were on road all night hungry and tired. They cooked whatever they can and gave it to those in the buses, on roads and those who were walking. I had not seen any incident of exploitation and taking advantage of the situation. Everyone was very co-operative and sympathetic to others. Listening and helping to the others. This was the spirit of Mumbai.