MUMBAI: The city saw unprecedented rains on July 26th, 2005. Within hours of torrential rains, this mega city was derailed into chaos and was paralyzed. The record rainfall proved that local administration was not prepared to tackle such situation.
Disaster management plans of the city proved failure. When lakhs of Mumbaikars found themselves stranded in local trains, vehicles, BEST buses or at railway stations, bus depots or other public places, the city saw the humane face of Mumbaikar.
A large number of citizens and NGO’s came out to help stranded passengers or those severely affected by floods. Rescue operations were taken up by the fellow citizens themselves in worst affected areas like Kurla, Sion, Mahim, Wadala, Vakola, Santacruz, Parel, Lal Baugh etc, before police or fire brigade teams could reach.
Hundreds of volunteers began helping the stranded people in these areas where the water level touched 12 ft in 24 hours. Lakhs of office goers who were caught unaware by torrential rains, took shelter at railway stations, where stock of all food stuff and drinking water was soon finished.
In such difficult situation, many local residents reached the railway stations, with whatever they had at their homes to eat and drink. Citizens along with some NGO have distributed food and water amongst stranded passengers who were at railway stations whole night.
In flooded roads and streets, many local residents made human chains to navigate stranded people who were walking on flooded roads. These human chains were made to save the people from being swept away into gutters by flood water.
In some low lying areas, BEST buses were stranded in water and passengers, including women and children, had to spent the night on the top deck of the buses. Local residents took risks to provide them drinking water and food.
Many government and private offices were converted into night shelter for their employees, who were forced to spend the night there.
Many local heroes did excellent job during these testing moments of this mega city. Some were honored and recognized. Many are unnamed.
A 13 year old girl Asma Khan, an inmate of Bal Griha Children Home, Chembur, was one such shining example, who showed courage and presence of mind. She rescued 40 kids in the flooded Children home, carrying them on her shoulder to safety.
She was bestowed with the National Bravery Award by Government of India on Republic Day. However, for thousands of other citizens who showed the courage and immense faith in humanity during these times, their work is an award for them.
They are unrecognized, still faceless and large in numbers. They are real heroes of the city. Mumbai has such a human spirit, and they are ambassadors of Mumbai.