‘I never imagined that I would have to go through these terrible times and would witness the death of my loved ones with my own eyes’.
Before the floods, 38 year-old Sumitra Devi and her family sold milk around the Kedarnath temple area. Like many others in Rudraprayag district, this was their livelihood – the three buffaloes they owned their only source of income.
The aftermath of floods in Rudraprayag district, Uttarakhand state.
Photo: Church's Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA).
All this changed, though, on the evening of 16 June, when her family was simply swept away; engulfed in a torrent of flood water and mud. The incessant early monsoon rains taking their tragic toll.
For Sumitra, the moment was devastating:
‘‘I lost my husband, my son Vijay and my daughter Vineeta. Our three buffaloes were killed in the mud, right in front of my eyes within a few minutes.’
Death toll is likely to reach 5,000
Heavy and incessant rains in the upper Himalayas - that began on Friday 14 June and lasted 48 hours – destroyed homes, damaged roads and caused bridges to collapse.
Latest reports indicate that more than 800 people have lost their lives - although this could well reach 5,000, according to government officials.
Over a hundred villages bore the brunt of the floods, with up to 1,000 homes damaged, if not completely washed away, in the worst affected districts of Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi.
I have not lost hope
For Sumitra, even a tragedy of this scale has failed to shake her faith and determination.
She says: ‘Although I have lost everything, I have not lost hope and shall do my level best to go into the business again and survive with my daughter-in-law. Now we are two widows left in the family. ’
Christian Aid has launched the India Floods Appeal.
Our partners Church's Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSS) and Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development (SEEDS) are responding now, meeting the needs of 3,900 households (23,400 people) with items such as food, shelter, blankets and medicines.