While youths save two in Purushottampur, NDRF rescues nine from the jaws of death

When gushing waters from the Rushikulya river ravaged their town, a group of youths acted as Good Samaritans in shifting the elderly, children and women to safety.

About two dozen youths alerted people about the imminent danger of floods. They shifted everyone to schools, a kalyanamandap and the Rajiv Gandhi Seva Kendra on Friday night.

The youths arranged a community kitchen with the rations provided by gram panchayat officials. About 50 to 60 villages in the Athili block remained cut off. The government had to airdrop ration, polythene sheets and other materials.

Bhagabat Patra said Mitu Dora and Tilu Reddy of Khajurapalle, who were swept away by the flood waters, were seen clutching on to a tree. Ward member Krishna Chandra Gowda , Sushant Gowda and others informed the nearby fire stations and the one at Berhampur. When there was no response, they rescued the two by using ropes and tubes.

“We stood like a rock to save the duo. It took us more than one hour to reach them in neck-deep water and bring them back to safety,” Krishna told The Hindu on Sunday.

Several villages in Sama and Chungudia were still marooned. National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel rushed in with boats along with men from the Orissa Rapid Action Force to distribute essentials such as flattened rice and jaggery, said NDRF inspector D.D. Joshi.

The tehsil office at Purushottampur was flooded and the employees saved the files by holding them on their heads. About 20,000 people had been affected in the block. “We are supplying relief material in boats to all of them,” tehsildar Basant Kumar Sethi told a team of The Hindu.

“The floods this time have wrought more havoc than what the survivors of 1991 cyclone witnessed,” Simanchal Behera of Chadhiapalli said.

In Ganjam district, NDRF personnel rescued nine persons when the swirling waters of the Rushikulya flooded Hinjli town and nearby areas.

The NDRF swung into action after an operation to save the nine by the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and the police failed.

“We kept our fingers crossed on receiving the distress call. However, on receipt of information from us about the incident at Gothagaon near Seragada, the NDRF rushed the team,” Ganjam SP Ashis Kumar Singh said.

When the team arrived, it was completely dark. Uprooted electric cables were hanging precariously. There was a risk of snake bite too. The inflammable boat in which they moved in also faced the possibility of turning turtle as there was heavy current in the water, he said.

When the NDRF team said it was not possible to reach the place, Mr. Singh told them that the nine persons, including one fireman who had slipped into a coma, were dying. The team’s task was to cross a distance of 6 km against all odds and rescue them. With the help of a tractor and three villagers, they reached the place where the nine persons were trapped.

Six of them had climbed a brick wall and the three fire brigade personnel and the home guard were hanging from a tree. The 15-member NDRF team made use of three boats and several ropes to tie them and bring back to safety. The NDRF team was led by K.S. Yadav and Inspector Sunil Kumar.