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J-K floods: Stuck on rooftops for days, yet reluctant to leave

A diabetic and hypertension patient, Ameena Begum, 80, couldn't sit or move because of her aching joints, and she was was dangerously running out of medicines when rescue workers arrived.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2014 12:51 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur

Eighty-year-old Ameena Begum could barely breathe when she was rescued from the third floor of her house in Raj Bagh, six days after the floods struck.

A diabetic and hypertension patient, Ameena couldn't sit or move because of her aching joints, and she was was dangerously running out of medicines when rescue workers arrived, her daughter-in-law Rafika said.

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"Initially, we thought the waters would recede till they came to our second floor. We moved our food and valuables on to the third floor. We had enough food, but no water. We lived a nightmare for a week", she said.

"The roofs of our homes are made of aluminum sheets and are not flat so we could not climb on to them. They shook badly when the rescue choppers came down," Rafika added.

When they were pulled to safety, the family left behind all their valuables and the also the rations they had stocked for the bitter winter ahead.

Another survivor, Mehbooba, was stuck on the fourth floor of her house on a wheel chair for days. When she was was rescued her blood pressure levels were high and she had to be immediately rushed to hospital.


People being rescued by the army personnels and local people after the floods at Tangpura in Srinagar. (Raj K Raj/HT photo)

Many of those now being rescued from rooftops are women, children and the elderly. They were left behind when the men in the families ventured out to get boats.

But despite the severe hardships there are many families who want to stay behind in their flooded homes.

This correspondent saw a young couple and their son wave to the NDRF boats for water. But they said a defiant no when asked whether they want to be rescued.

Watch:

Medics strive to save lives as hopsitals run out of medicines in flood hit J-K

Another woman in the third floor of her house was seen sharing food through a window with a neighbour as the floodwater separated the houses.

Affluent Raj Bagh with its sprawling bungalows, guest houses and high-end shops lives in constant fear of theft even as water levels are still up to two floors.

And the fears are not unfounded. Locals say gold chains, TV sets and refrigerators have been stolen from homes as people move through the water in makeshift boats. Some are hiring local boats to transport their belongings or just to come back and check their homes.

Flood-affected Kashmiris shout out for help from the roof of a house in Srinagar. (PTI Photo)

A group of eight secretariat employees from Jammu atop the Blue Diamond guest house too refused evacuation. "We are fine here. There is no transport to reach Jammu after we leave this place. The locals heckle us and call us thieves," said one of them.

They finally agreed to be lifted on to the boat on an assurance by the NDRF that army planes would take them to Jammu.

NDRF director general OP Sharma who is in Srinagar said the resistance of people to leave their homes is one of the big challenges faced by rescue workers.

Read: J-K is the only flood-prone state without a flood warning system

"We had to persuade some families for 8 to 10 hours . But eventually they'll all need to come out of their homes," he said.