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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

looting in Houston ~ Amchi Mumbai provides food and shelter ~ aftermath of nature's fury

Nature’s fury – disaster strikes, it is for mankind to rise above !!

A day after heavy rains wreaked havoc in the country’s financial capital, the civic chief on Wednesday blamed extreme weather conditions for waterlogging on roads and railway tracks, saying the municipal machinery worked fine in the hour of crisis. The megalopolis received around 320 mm rain on Tuesday, the heaviest on a single day since the July 26, 2005 record of 944 mm, which paralysed the city within a few hours. The torrential rain plunged the city into chaos as water swamped homes, and submerged roads and railway tracks, leaving thousands of people stranded at various places.

~ and how beautifully Mumbaikars responded again !!  - one example : If anyone stuck in Lower Parel can make it to @bombaycanteen, our doors are open for some garam chai, working WiFi & warm hospitality, screamed one.   Maharashtra Parliamentary Affairs Minister Girish Bapat  appealed to people stranded in South Mumbai for unavailability of transport following heavy rains, to take shelter in his official residence for time being. In his appeal made through Facebook, the BJP leader, who hails from Pune, said that people stranded in areas such as Fort, and at Mantralaya can rest or stay in his official residence ‘Dnyaneshwari’, located at Malabar Hill, till the situation shows improvement.  Amchi Mumbai is different !

Miles away, the parallels between Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Katrina are stark. Look no further than the severe and destructive flooding that both storms have left along the Gulf Coast and the sheer number of evacuations due in part to a respective lack of preparation. Perhaps it’s because of those similarities that an “ABC World News Tonight” anchor’s use of the word “looting” on Twitter to describe a scene amid Houston’s floodwaters reminded many of a debate that raged 12 years ago.  ‘it was looting and finding’ – more to do with the attitude of people when disaster strikes !!  .. now read on !

Houston authorities imposed an overnight curfew Tuesday, incensed that criminals impersonating law enforcement officers in the wake of Hurricane Harvey were victimizing the city's hardest-hit residents. The curfew, which takes effect immediately and will continue indefinitely, was initially set from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. CT, but shortly thereafter, Mayor Sylvester Turner modified it to begin at midnight. With the police department strained to the limit after the historic storm, thousands of people are on their own, and "the reality is there are some people who might be inclined to take advantage of this situation," he said. "I don't want them to worry about anybody breaking into their homes or looting while they are away," he said.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office said 14 people have been arrested on suspicion of looting, but Police Chief Art Acevedo said there had been scores of other reports of even worse behavior. Specifically, people wearing T-shirts claiming to represent Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Homeland Security Department's Homeland Security Investigations division. He said real agents of both agencies don't wear T-shirts, so Houstonians should demand to see ID or call 911 before they open their doors.

Tropical Storm Harvey made its second landfall just west of Cameron, Louisiana in the early hours of Wednesday morning, promising more precipitation after a record rainfall that has caused catastrophic flooding and paralyzed Houston. The storm that first came ashore on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years has killed at least 17 people, forced tens of thousands of people to leave deluged homes and caused damage estimated at tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the costliest US natural disasters.

The rescues continue late into the night in east Houston using any available boat or vehicle including garbage trucks.  "You cannot drive, nor be in any public place. We have had problems with armed robberies, with people with guns and firearms," said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. Turner earlier said the city was opening several additional emergency shelters to alleviate crowding at the convention center, which has 10,000 people. Some of those will be moved to a nearby concert hall and basketball arena.

City officials were preparing to temporarily house some 19,000 people, with thousands more expected to flee. As of Tuesday morning, nearly 50,000 homes had suffered flood damage, Texas officials said, and the tally is certain to rise. US President Donald Trump visited Texas on Tuesday to survey damage from the first major natural disaster to test his leadership in a crisis. The president said he was pleased with the response, but it was too soon for a victory lap. The unprecedented flooding has left scores of neighborhoods chest-deep in water and badly strained the dams and drainage systems that protect the low-lying Houston metropolitan area whose economy is about as large as Argentina's.

Harvey has drawn comparisons with Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans 12 years ago, killing 1,800 people and causing an estimated $108 billion in damage ~ and sadly the looting too perhaps is comparable.

Back home, the  Mumbai Police on Tuesday (29th Aug 2017)  debunked notions that the police in India moves at a slow speed when responding to disasters by taking charge and promptly helping people through tweets and issuing traffic advisories.Many parts of Mumbai and suburbs were inundated under three to four feet of water; the highways, main and arterial roads, bylanes, housing complexes, railway stations and even the Mumbai Airport. The Met department on Tuesday warned of more "heavy intermittent spells" in the next few hours.  However, the prompt tweets and updates from Mumbai Police helped a number of people. From asking people stuck in the rain to contact the police via Twitter to allaying fears and asking people not to panic, Mumbai Police turned into a life saver for the inundated Mumbai. The pinned tweet on its twitter handle asks people to dial 100 if they are stuck and assures them that the police will assist.

As Mumbai reeled under heavy lashings of rain for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday, some good samaritans in the city have responded by opening their doors for those stranded in the downpour. Locals have been sharing their addresses and contact details, offering shelter and food to anyone and everyone who needs it. Offices, gurudwaras, restaurants have volunteered to offer sanctuary to people stranded as torrential rain brings the city of blinding lights to a standstill, throwing traffic out of gear, affecting trains and flights services in the Maharashtra capital.

Salute the spirit of Samaritans and the city.. .. mera Bharat mahan hai !
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

30th Aug 2017.

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