Flash floods in the Melamchi and Yangri rivers on Tuesday night damaged three dozen houses along the rivers, washed away bridges, and impacted over 100 homes. Other concrete structures are strewn with mud carried in by rivers. The speed of water, however, has not slowed down. The riversides are still being hacked away at.
Two desperate and terrified-looking businesspeople arrived at the Nepal Army’s Kalijung Battalion in Melamchi municipality-11 on Wednesday around 2:30 p.m. When they arrived to meet the chief, they pleaded with the soldiers stationed outside.
“If the river could be diverted by a helicopter explosion, about a dozen houses could be saved from immediate danger,” one of them said. They returned, but the Chief was busy in a meeting.
They could only sit and stare, saddened, as they waited for their house to sink. They aren’t the only two, though. More residents are waiting, fearful that their homes in the market area will be flooded or damaged.
The floods in Melamchi, according to Anil Pokharel, chief executive officer of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority, are a “cascading disaster.” Although this is not the first time Melamchi has experienced a disaster, it has never been on this scale. As a result, he believes it is an omen for a larger disaster in the future.
They become calm whenever the rain stops in the hopes that the water levels will drop. When it rains, however, it also washes away their hopes. Who doesn’t cry when their hard-earned money is squandered?
Melamchi Bazaar is located just below the confluence of two rivers, Indrawati, with the Melamchi river on the right and Yangri on the left.
It is forbidden to approach the confluence in any way. Outsiders, as well as locals, are watching the situation and river flow from the hilltop. No one remembers or follows the Covid-19 epidemic during a disaster.
“That one-story house you see was a three-story one,” says local businessman Binod Shrestha, pointing out from the hill. Our house is on the verge of being demolished. The CDOs are holding a meeting to distribute tarpaulins in the meantime.”
As she watches her house sink into the Rudreshwar Higher Secondary School compound, Rudra Kumari Shrestha lets out a long sigh. “Our room was on the second floor, and there was a shop downstairs. One floor has already sunk, and the rest will soon follow. I come here every now and then to see what’s left of the floor. My heart sinks as the Indrawati begins to cut the edge. It’s consuming all of my belongings.”
She had taken out a four-million-rupee loan to construct the house. The plan had been to run a business while repaying the loan, but now it’s all over. Her house was at a much higher elevation, and she never imagined the river would ever reach it and cause damage. However, it has now occurred.
She went from being a landlord to seeking refuge in a public place in the blink of an eye.
Teklal Shrestha, a local from Thumko, gestures towards his home from the army camp’s compound. “I own the white house, which is about 40 meters from where the Indrawati began cutting. Rain flooded two floors yesterday; the next two floors will be flooded in the next 2 to 4 hours. My house will be finished in two to four hours if you sit here and watch. Everything has vanished, and all I can do now is sit and watch.”
When Harilal Tamang, a traffic police constable, sees the house where he used to live, he says, “The landlord has not returned from Indreshwar hill.” The belongings have already been saved.”
Melamchi-11 ward chief Rudra Prasad Dulal was stunned while recounting the details of the market damage at Rudreshwor Secondary School. “Are the locals who are taking refuge in the school asking if their homes have been destroyed?” He claims that such questions, as well as the number of homeless people, are too much for him to handle. Dulal claims he has never witnessed anything so disturbing.
All eyes are now focused on the Indravati River. The river is rushing and sweeping riverbanks to the left and right, submerging the hearts of the locals. Locals who have taken refuge at Rudreshwar High School shiver at the thought of the river sweeping through their neighborhood and destroying their homes.
Since last night, phone lines, electricity, and internet services have been down. Many people have been unable to communicate with their relatives. Since yesterday, all roads have been closed.
No one was allowed to go to the Melamchi Bazaar’s center. The traffic management in the market was chaotic, with onlookers exiting their vehicles to view the floods in various locations. In search and rescue missions, Nepal Army, Armed Police Force, and Nepal Police personnel are on the run.
When the bus park sank
Ravi Shrestha, a local, was getting ready to sleep on Tuesday night. He naturally gravitated towards the municipality’s announcement, which he heard in the market area. The city office was informing residents that the Melamchi and Indrawati rivers had flooded, and that fishermen and others should return to the shores.
However, he heard on TV at 8 p.m. that the Amahylmo Buspark had been washed away by the Indrawati. He was taken aback. The crisis appeared to be real at this point. “All of a sudden, I became panicked. We couldn’t see the water gushing at night, but I could tell the flood was massive from the sounds and reports.”
They left home that night and sought refuge in the school on the hill, bringing only the necessities with them. Residents living beneath the main road were asked to leave their homes at night. “We don’t have exact figures, but many people were rescued early in the morning. But we couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.”
Unlimited loss of wealth
So far, no locals have been killed, but three foreigners working for the Melamchi Water Supply Project have been discovered dead. They were on high alert after hearing that this year’s monsoon would be worse than previous ones. The flood warnings, on the other hand, were issued early Tuesday night. As a result, people did not leave their homes, and even those who lived near the river remained safe.
Two concrete bridges and three suspension bridges were swept away in Melamchi’s ward 11 until Wednesday night, according to the municipality. Many other structures have been buried, including a covered hall, a city park, and eight fisheries.
More than one billion rupees has been lost, according to preliminary data.