We had no hope of living: J-K flood survivors

  • Bhartesh Singh Thakur and agencies, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Sep 11, 2014 17:38 IST

It was a harrowing experience for the Gargs who had gone to Srinagar for a holiday. They were stuck at a hotel at the city's Lal Chowk when the flood waters swirled in.

"We reached Srinagar on September 4. I went with my wife, daughter and son-in-law. We were staying at Regal Hotel at Lal Chowk. On September 5, there were heavy rains. But there was no alert from the local government. The next day water started flooding the hotel," said Sushil Garg, 58, a resident of Chandigarh who runs a stationery shop in Panchkula.

"In an effort to escape, we waded through the water with our luggage, and luckily reached an elevated road. Then, we took a taxi and shifted to Nishant hotel, which is situated on height and we thought it would be safe," he said.

Then someone told the Gargs that if they could reach near the Raj Bhawan, they could be evacuated to Chandigarh. They somehow reached the Raj Bhawan, but there were hundreds of people already waiting there.

"People were sleeping on roads, but there was no help from the state government. The children were hungry. We got packed food, which was from the central government. The local police was not intervening in the fights among the people standing in queues for evacuation," he said.

The Gargs were among 253 people who reached Chandigarh air force station in two different aircrafts on Wednesday, five days after the disaster struck.

"We had no hope of surviving. It was the army who saved us. The local administration and police left us to fend for ourselves," said Garg who like most other survivors was very critical of the way the Omar Abdullah government responded.

"My son-in-law and daughter are still in Srinagar, but they will come by the next flight. I think those who have reached back are lucky," he said.

'The army saved our lives'
The Sharmas were another family back in Chandigarh who were full of praise for the way the army helped in the rescue

"We salute the army," said Jyoti Sharma, a resident of Zirakpur who had gone to Srinagar for a holiday with her husband Prakash Sharma, who is a businessman.

"We were four adults and two children. We were staying near Shalimar Garden. On September 6, the whole city was under water. It was the Army who rescued us and saved our lives," said Prakash Sharma.

Among the thousands pulled out by army from the flood waters was a pregnant woman whose house in the Sher-e-Shafi locality in Srinagar was submerged. She was taken to a military hospital where she gave birth to a baby boy.

"We received a message in the afternoon that one Arshida, a resident of Pampore area in Srinagar, was in labour pains and had to be evacuated," Army's additional director general (public information) Shokin Chauhan said.

The troops first brought her out of the house where she was stranded and then moved to another place in boats. From there, she was airlifted to the Army Base Hospital where she gave birth to a health baby boy, he said.

Both the mother and the baby are safe, Army officials said.

The Army has so far received around 15,000 distressmessages on its website, Twitter handle and the Facebook page and has been passing on the information to local commanders on the WhatsApp application.

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