Beni, KHEL’s General Manager, has had intermittent internet connection because of the severe monsoons in Dehradun. In between cleaning water and mud out of his own home and helping his wife, Kamli, with her City Councilor duties in the flood ravaged colony of Shiv Puri where Lakshmi Devi Academy (LDA), KHEL’s school for underserved children is located, he found a few minutes to take some photos and send this report:
‘There are a lot of NGO’s sending supplies for the mountain areas but most of it is sitting in Dehradun and the food donations are rotting. At this time all the focus is on the tourists/pilgrimage people. In a few days most of them will be able to go home but the losses to the villages in the mountains are terrible. Many people have lost their family members, homes, farms, businesses and animals. Many mountain people use mules for transporting goods to markets to sell, so the loss of the animals makes it impossible for them to make any money. Some farms are okay, but the roads are all gone so they can’t sell what they have grown. It will be a big challenge for all of them to survive, especially in the winter. There are already camps around Dehradun where the mountain people are coming. They will need help with food, clothes, medicines and other needs.
We’ve had a really hard time here in Shiv Puri Colony [Beni’s living room is pictured above]. The Rispana River which comes from the flooded Rajpur hills has twice broken the stone wall that protects the Colony, on June 16th and 25th. On June 16th LDA was flooded with two feet of water. On the 25th morning about 3:30am, the entire river came in to Shiv Puri Colony and surrounding areas. LDA was not in the way of the water so this time it wasn’t flooded. It was so very dangerous; 95% of homes were affected by this swift flooding, some of the homes were under 5 or 6 feet of water. People who have cars and motor bikes saw them being swept hundreds of meters away. Smaller bikes and scooters went into the river. Most everyone lost their food and refrigerators, furniture, clothes and other personal belongings. We had a foot of water in our house; it was a good thing that we woke up in the middle of the night and were able to open our front door, so most of the water that was coming in the back of our house flowed out through our front door. Many people weren’t so lucky. When the river water subsided we had 4 inches of mud inside our house. Some LDA staff families were badly affected.
Kamli is helping to get some aid to people from the Uttarakhand state government [that’s Kamli holding the umbrella in the photo]. But so many people have been affected I don’t know if they will all get aid. I try to help her by taking her to visit affected people but it’s very difficult because of the water and mud. She is working very hard to help as many people as possible. There is so much mud and hopefully she will be able to get the City Council to clean it up soon.
With the first flooding, LDA had 2 feet of water [photo is of the guard room in LDA, after the water was removed]. We cleaned it out as quickly as we could. We need to repair the gate and surrounding areas, and clean the entire building with antiseptic liquid before the children start school in early July because the flood water carries many diseases. The printer in the ground floor office was damaged. The ink cartridge needs to be replaced, then we will see if it’s still working.
Manohar [KHEL’s Community Outreach Coordinator] will prepare a full budget for repairs and cleaning and we will send it as soon as we can. Hopefully we will not have any more flooding but it’s still raining and we don’t know what will happen next.’