Coming from Nirmal, Telangana, a district below the hills and one that has five ponds, I’m not a stranger to constant rains causing floods. While working at Gram Swaraj Sangh with my co-fellow Falak, in the first month itself, our mentor, Dinesh ji kept alerting us about the upcoming cyclone named Biparjoy. However, we failed to understand its seriousness. He told us to keep a stock of dry snacks and prepare for at least a two-day indoor stay.
On the campus where we live, many preventive measures were being taken like cutting down trees, filling the tanks to store water for the next three days, and getting essential groceries from the nearby village. Little did we know about the strength and consequences of Biparjoy, but we kept some snacks anyway thinking that we were ready for anything.
News channels were constantly telecasting about the red alert for the cyclone in Kutch. It kept us speculating about its scale while making our parents understandably worried. We reassured them by informing that we are safe and that the campus is making thorough arrangements for all that can go wrong. As the night drew in, we fell asleep, expecting to wake up to another Friday.
Water Water Everywhere, Not A Drop To Drink
Around 1 am, we woke up drenched in sweat and saw that the rainwater dripping inside the house. There was no way we could go outside. It looked like the rain started pouring about an hour ago and that’s when the power went off. This was just the beginning…
After shutting all the windows and doors tightly, we managed to sleep again only to wake up at 7 am to tiny indoor pools formed by the rainfall. Oblivious to the challenges that lay ahead, we enjoyed the rainy weather from our beds. Only when we went to brush our teeth, we realized that the tank was empty. The pipe had broken because of the cyclone last night, and all the water drained out.
Also read: My First Rain In Kutch
In search of an alternative solution, we faced another obstacle. Our matka (earthen pot) in which we store drinking water, was also almost empty. Since we were out for work the previous day, we missed filling the drinking water in the given time. Going out in the relentless rain was our only option. We ran with two buckets to the neighbour’s house and got water for emergency usage.
The Hunger Games During Biparjoy
Skipping breakfast was a part of our action plan for survival but it didn’t turn out well. Our tummies were growling louder than the thunder outside. By 2 pm, the intensity of the rain had gone down. We took it as an opportunity to run to the school mess on campus where we have meals every day. It turned out to be an action sequence because of all the fallen trees and debris that the cyclone brought.
The rain started raging again and while we ate, a huge tree collapsed to the ground bringing out its roots in front of our eyes. Going back to the room was a big task now, amidst the fear of falling trees and turbulent winds. We ran through the empty spaces, making pit stops at the sheds until we finally made it back.
Now, we were waiting for the network in our mobile phones so that we could inform our family members and friends that we are okay. Moreover, the phones were running out of battery. When the signal came for five minutes in the late afternoon, we managed to contact the main people. The rest of the day was spent reading a book. Around 8 pm, our cook and her husband came to give us the dinner, holding umbrellas tightly to stop them from flying away with the wind. With nothing else to do, we again hit the bed.
By the next morning, the rain had eased slightly and the wind had calmed down. The indoor pools were slowly receding. By 10 am, it had nearly stopped. We came out from our rooms to discover the campus had turned wet and muddy. It was time for the ‘Cleanup Games’. Everyone started to clean the mess. We also clicked pictures to send back home and to our friends.
We started with cleaning our house followed by helping the residents pick up branches fallen on roads, cutting and loading them on tractors. A few women gathered and cooked for everyone on the campus. All of us ate with each other. It was great to see people coming together after a shared crisis.
The next issue to deal with, was power outage. Everyone’s phones had gone into hibernation and even the power banks and inverters had run out of charge. This helped us socialize more with people present in front of us. However, since mobile phones have become a necessity for everyone now, our organization came up with a temporary solution – To supply power for one hour every evening through an inverter in the guest house, allowing everyone on campus to charge their phones. After an early dinner at 6 pm (before sun sets and it gets dark), we would gather at the guest house and charge our phones. After eight days, power was finally restored, and life returned to normal.
The restoration of the campus is still going on. But now, when someone asks me for an adventurous story, I have a cyclone tale to share. BiparJOY!