As flood water recedes in J&K, people scramble to salvage whatever is left

Srinagar: As the sun continues to play 'hide and seek' in the flood-ravaged Srinagar, 40-year-old Sumeet Kaul, a resident of Jawahar Nagar locality, was today busy drying her wedding photo album, as only memories remain of what once used to be her dwelling.

As the water level in some of the worst-affected areas of the city continue to recede, many people were seen trying their best to salvage whatever is left in their house. With water still dripping from the photo album, Sumeet while showing a picture of her house says, "Now only memories remain of what once used to be our abode.

The floods have taken away everything we had. This house too has now become unsafe to live in." Tightly packed in two layers of polythene and locked in a wardrobe, the photo album of Sumeet's wedding was the only item in her house that survived the fury of the devastating floods of September 7.

Having seen the worst days of militancy in Kashmir, Sumeet's is one amongst a handful of Kashmiri Pandit families who decided against migration and stayed back in Kashmir when the armed insurgency started in late '80s.

"We never saw such a huge tragedy, my family is witness to some of the worst days in the Valley, but a tragedy of such
a huge magnitude was unprecedented," she says, "Having lost everything, our lives will never be the same again."

Sumeet's husband Rajesh, who owned an electronic shop in Lal Chowk, the once bustling commercial hub of Srinagar, says that his entire business was ruined by the flood water as all the goods in his shop were destroyed. "Nothing could be saved, we only saved our lives. After being trapped in the house and struggling for four days without food and water the locals saved us and now for the past 13 days we have been living in a Gurudwara at Barzulla Bagat," Rajesh said.

Even as water continued to recede, several localities in Srinagar including Raj Bagh, Jawahar Nagar are still under several feet of water.

Floating animal carcasses and other debris have made it difficult for the residents to reach their houses. Stagnated water has also increased the threat of various waterborne diseases. "This heap of rubble is what once used to be my three-storey house. My three kids were born in this house so were the kids of my brothers. I have spent my childhood in this house and my parents breathed their last in this house," said Amarjeet Singh, a resident of Jawahar Nagar.

"The structure can be rebuilt, but what about the memories that were associated with the house. Physical scars can heal but the scars on our memories will never heal," he said.

As per the government figures more than two lakh structures were damaged, which included 20,000 completely destroyed houses, in the floods that hit the Kashmir Valley earlier this month. "Approximately 2,34,516 structures have been damaged,
which includes nearly 20,000 completely damaged houses, in the valley excluding district Srinagar.

"Damages to other houses and structures will be known only when the submerged areas are fully dewatered," the Jammu and Kashmir government had told the High Court.

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