For the people of Jammu and Kashmir, 2014 was about trauma and pain the century's worst deluge brought to them.
Though the state is prone to natural disasters, it has never seen such devastating floods. "2014 would be remembered as the year when the worst natural disaster in the history of the state took place. Heavy rainfall that lashed the Jammu region and the deluge that engulfed several parts of Kashmir valley have etched its place in the darkest chapter of the state history," Mubarkh Gul, former speaker of the state assembly, said.
According to official figures, the September floods wreaked havoc in the state snuffing out more than 250 lives.
In Jammu region, the entire Sadal village in Udhampur district vanished from the map as it got buried under massive landslide triggered by heavy rainfall. A survey conducted by the state government post-floods revealed that more than 3.5 lakh structures, including 2.5 lakh residential houses, were damaged rendering over 12 lakh families homeless. "More than 5,500 villages across the state were hit by the floods. Over 95,000 residential houses suffered damages in the summer capital Srinagar alone," Chief secretary Mohammed Iqbal Khanday said.
While the state saw nature's fury, people from across the country extended help to the affected residents of the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi first announced Rs 1,000 crore when he arrived in Kashmir soon after floods hit it and later another package of Rs 745 crore apart from directing state government to use Rs 1,100 crore disaster management fund for relief operations. Indian Army, Air Force and Navy apart from disaster management agencies launched a massive rescue and relief operation.
"Despite the fact that the armed forces suffered huge damage to its infrastructure in the Kashmir valley, our men rushed to carry out rescue operations in the civilian areas. The initial aim was to save as much lives as they could, thereafter it was rehabilitation of the affected people," Jammu-based defence spokesman Lt Col Manish Mehta told. The Border Road Organisation of the army also played an important role in the restoration of various surface communication lines.
"BRO played a vital role in restoring surface communication lines at various places. There were various villages which got completely disconnected and BRO restored links to those village so that relief and rescue operation could be carried out," Mehta said. Post floods, the rescue, relief and rehabilitation work was a coordinated effort, where various wings of the security forces, Jammu and Kashmir Police and NDRF besides local volunteers jumped in to help the victims. "As soon as we learnt about the floods, we rushed our men and relief material to the state. Cooked food was air lifted from Golden Temple and other gurudwaras across Punjab and was either air dropped or distributed to the affected people" P S Chandok, member Delhi Gurudwara Management committee, said.