Many are calling northwest India’s heaviest rains for 80 years a ‘Himalayan tsunami’ and the reasons why are obvious. Almost 100,000 people have been rescued so far, tens of thousands more remain displaced from their homes and thousands are reported to be injured. Infrastructure and farmland have been swept away and landslides have been caused.
A ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) is now in Uttarakhand state, a mountainous region that is one of the worst affected by the flooding, assessing the situation.
‘This past year I have lived and worked in Himachal Pradesh, a neighbouring state to Uttarakhand that is also affected by the torrential monsoon rains,’ said SRT member Eva Doerr (DE). ‘It is a very different feeling deploying to a place I now call home; I have a lot more personal attachment.’
Although rescue and relief efforts have been hampered by continuous rain, mist and fog, Eva is impressed by people’s determination to continue to assist no matter what.
‘Within the first 24 hours in country, the people here have already proven to me once again how much they are willing to help each other out. It seems as if there are a lot of very active individuals as well as local aid agencies working in Uttarakhand to provide quick relief for those in need.’
Using contacts that Eva made during her time living in India, the SRT has made good progress in just the first day of its response to the devastating disaster.
‘It is amazing how much the few contacts we had in country prior to arrival have already helped us with our efforts to assess the scale of need. We managed to reach Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, the day we arrived and plan to travel to some of the most affected districts later today.’
Many of the worst affected communities live in hard-to-reach areas including Kedarnath and Badrinath, where livelihoods depend on subsistence farming and cattle rearing. However not only have they lost their homes but also their crops and livestock. ShelterBox will be exploring various possibilities of bringing aid to these isolated areas.