Maharashtra Flooded. The headline floods newspapers and national channels yearly without fail. (No puns intended on that one). This year’s edition of the state’s annual floods has been particularly deadly. The calamity has affected the regions of Sangli, Kolhapur and Pune. As of now, 16 deaths have been reported from rain and flood related incidents while more than 2.5 lakh people have been successfully evacuated.
While each year, the calamity also brings to light stories of courage, human strength and aid, it is imperative to understand that it also affects thousands annually, in addition to causing damage to both natural and man property. So why does the state of Maharashtra gets submerged annually and what can be done about it?
The first and probably the driving factor behind the perpetual flooding is climate change, and the situation only seems to be getting worse. Over more than a century, the average temperature in Mumbai has risen by 2.4 degrees. According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), there have been nine extremely heavy rainfall days (more than 204.5 mm) in Mumbai in twice as many years. Even the annual frequency of heavy rainfall events (64.5 – 115.5 mm) has seen a steady increase in recent decades.
Another factor attributing to the calamity has been the constant state of development which the state finds itself in. By trading land for infrastructural developments, the state has effectively robbed it of the opportunity to absorb excess water. Land can act as an important infrastructure for flood management. By eliminating land for development, one moves from wetlands and salt marshes that are capable of absorbing excess water to impermeable concrete structures.
While making sure the floods are not an annual occurrence requires policy level and infrastructural developments, there are several things that you can do at the grassroots level to manage the situation effectively. So what can be done to tackle the floods? Here are some things that you can do to be prepared well for the floods each year:-
- Share your live location with family, under the Mumbai floods option as well as get information and contact numbers of the disaster management department, traffic updates and helpline number.
- You can also report road closures due to floods via Google Apps. By clicking on and reporting the affected areas on the app, you can help countless people stay away from flood hit areas.
- You may have seen countless images and videos of homes getting flooded, and you can surely prepare for them better to reduce the risk of damage in case you live in a flood-prone area. Construct barriers (levees, beams, floodwalls) to stop floodwater from entering your home. Sandbags can provide a temporary levee in an emergency.
- If you have to walk in water, wherever possible, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
While it is important to know what to do in case of flooding, it is equally important to know what not to do in order to protect yourself:-
- Don’t keep your electronics and gas connections switched on. Numerous deaths happen due to people getting electrocuted. Leaks and short-circuits are more likely to happens during monsoon, given there are water-loggings almost everywhere.
- Don’t drive during flood hit areas. Remember, turning around is always safer than drowning.