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The great flood



At the beginning of June monsoons arrived with abundant rainfall and caused serious catastrophes in the Himalayan region. Kedarnath area, one of the main pilgrimage and tourist places in summer, has paid a heavy toll in human lives whose amount is still indefinite, and maybe it will never be exactly determined, but that is well over five thousand victims.


When we went back to Varanasi, in July, the river was already rising fast, swelling more and more but after Guru Purnima its level kept on rising of about one meter a day and it reached the walls of the centre quickly, nearly passing them and putting us on the alert. In the city things were even worse and the south area was impassable in different points with roads and houses flooded. The Varuna river, which surrounds the northern part of the city from west to east, overflew and some areas flooded, forcing residents to flee precipitously.


Not only human beings did run away from the fury of the waters but also animals did it and so the ones that had their lairs on the river banks sought refuge elsewhere. So you can see snakes, monitor lizards, mongooses, mice and rodents swimming to the bank to seek shelter. Some also entered the ashram, but they didn’t cause any danger.


 Then the waters started subsiding very quickly but when the risk seemed to be averted, a new flood hit the city again, making the warning level rise. Some days later even this risk calmed down. When the situation seemed to be back to normal, a third and more violent flood passed the level of the previous one, reaching the centre and the school, forcing us to close it some days. The kitchen was moved next to the entrance temporarily.


 This last flood has nearly reached the 1978 highest level, inundating many areas of the city and of its outskirts. Some neighborhoods were cut off and many of our children’s families had to get up on the roofs, under the pouring rain. In this extreme emergency situation the ashram has provided the people in need with oilcloths and food.


When the situation was becoming serious for us, too, the river started subsiding. The ashram was spared but we feared a catastrophic flood very strongly.


In spite of the danger, the activities of the ashram have been going on as usual, the school opened every day, except during the last flood obviously, and the hospital never stopped to give its services in this season in which there is a high rate of diseases. The children are very exposed but our first-aid has always met the help requests we have to face daily.

This is a year many people will remember for a long time.