The armed forces had to step in as the parts of the city lying below the Kirthar Range were submerged in the wake of severe flooding on Sunday.
In the aftermath of the heavy rainfall on Saturday, parts of Gadap Town - including Madina Colony, Saadi Town, Fatima Society, KESC Society, Rim Jhim Towers, Safoora Chowk, Bhittaiabad and Haji Ramzan Goth - were inundated.
The water began gushing down the Kirthar Range, located above Super Highway, towards the low-lying areas. The flood wave passed through various drains and nullahs towards the highway and entered Saadi Town and Madina Colony. Since the terrain sloped down nearly 12 feet towards Safoora Goth, the water also rushed down carrying with it vehicles along the way.
“The rain exposed our administration’s lack of ability to handle a disastrous situation,” complained a resident of Chapal Garden, Muhammad Rafiq. He recalled how water entered the ground floor of Sunlay Cottages on Saturday night but there was no one to rescue the residents until Sunday morning.”
The flood was so intense that the armed forces and Pakistan Navy also had to step in to launch a rescue operation, along with Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. The water level beyond Safoora Goth towards Saadi Town was so high that even trucks were unable to pass through. The navy forces brought in small boats to reach the flooded neighbourhoods.
Grateful to be alive, resident Zamir Chandio did complain that they lost thousands of rupees worth of appliances. Besides Sumera Bungalows, where Chandio lives, there is a slum where people built a mud wall on their own to prevent the rain water from damaging their homes, he pointed out. “We knew the administration will never compensate for any losses so we took measures on our own,” claimed a resident, Rawal.
450 KMC men to the rescue
The newly appointed KMC administrator, Saqib Soomro, pointed out that the municipality had deployed nearly 450 men to rescue stranded residents. Fire brigade vehicles were also on standby at the affected locations and relief work is being carried out under the search lights provided by these fire trucks, he said. According to Soomro, around 400 people have been shifted from flooded areas with the help of the armed forces and the navy since Saturday night. The municipality is using generators to pump rainwater were it has accumulated, he explained, adding that once the water is sucked out, they will start a fumigation drive in these areas.
Army brings in experts
Along with the municipal workers, personnel of Pakistan Army and the Navy also conducted a search and rescue operation in Jalbani Goth, Saadi Town, Safoora Goth and Saadat-e-Amroha Society, and rescued more than 650 people.
While the troops on the ground rescued over 300 people on boats, the army helicopters monitored the situation from above as well. “The trapped people were later taken to safer places,” a military spokesperson told The Express Tribune. According to him, another batch of about 72 army engineers are using 12 dewatering pumps to speed up rescue efforts in Federal B Area and Karachi Garrison.
“Our engineers, divers and swimmers are participating in the operation and will continue to work until the roads are cleared up,” he said.
Meanwhile, the navy spokesperson also said they rescued over 350 people, who were trapped on their rooftops. “Two dozen of our professional divers, commandos and deep sea divers participated in the rescue operation with eight rescue speed boats,” said the spokesperson. “The operation started at 10pm on Saturday and ended at 3pm on Sunday.” He clarified that the navy came in when the commissioner sought their help.
‘Design fault flooded some streets in DHA’
Despite the presence of rainwater drains, several roads in Defence Housing Authority (DHA) were flooded after Saturday’s rainfall. The authority explained it happened due to some design faults in rainwater drains.
“These drainage lines were built in the middle of the roads on an emergency basis in 2007 ahead of the monsoons,” said DHA public relations officer Col. (retd) Syed Rafat Hussain Naqvi. “The monsoons that year arrived before the secondary drains, which take water to the main drains, could be built so water becomes stagnant in these areas.” Naqvi added that the construction of secondary drains could not be carried out even to this day because the project became controversial. Their chief engineer has pointed out spots in the drainage system where faults lie and they will be removed immediately, he said, promising that DHA will be dry by the next rainfall. DHA announced, in a press release on Sunday, that all rainwater had been drained out after its administrator Brig Muhammad Abdullah visited the flooded streets on Sunday. The team identified the following locations as flooded with rainwater: some portions of Khayaban-e-Bahria, Khayaban-e-Shahbaz, Popular Avenue, Badar Commercial and commercial streets 7, 8 and 9 of Phase-IV. DHA also established a rain emergency centre at its main office in Phase-I. Residents can contact the emergency control room on: 99266844, 99266845 and 111-589-589 Ext 2073.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2013.