Sunday, September 14, 2014

J&K Flood Management Operation-1: Current Needs – (a) Public Communication, (b) Cleaning Material, (c) Mud Dumping

I have decided to offer my contribution to the flood victims in Jammu and Kashmir through sharing of my “knowledge & Experience” in overall disaster management through my blog. I will numerical sequence all my posts with a mention on specific subject (underlines) covered. These are my personal views based on experience and education I acquired during last more then 35 years of professional carrier.

Without going into the past history – I would start addressing issues relevant to the current dynamics of the situation in affected areas. This post is dedicated to relief supplies which - victims may need at this point of time (as on 15th Sept. 2014) with few points on – how administration should approach relief supply management.

Relief supply management – some basic steps:
1.      State administration must take a quick impact assessment on the day-to-day basic needs [food, water, electricity, shelter, clothing, medication and medical services, attendance to disabled, information system (radio, TV etc). communication (PSTN, Cell phone etc)] for a family or individual.
2.      In case situation does not permit to conduct the - initial need assessment by sending teams physically, administration can simulate the possible situation and draw some broad assessment on “probable community needs”. Situation assessment (physical or virtual) will help avoid arrival of “unusable supplies” as such merchandise will divert crucial resources (manpower, storage, transport etc) which are generally under extreme constraint in the aftermath of any server disaster.

  • No unsolicited relief supply should be accepted.
  • Community representative should be involved in distribution of “relief supplies”.
  • Management of places of worships (like Masjids in case of Srinagar) should be encouraged to take part relief supply distribution.
  • All efforts should be made to inform general public about arrangements made for distribution of relief supplies and relief services.

(a)   Communication
Communication remains a “crucial need” for public at large during all phases of disaster (pre, during and post disaster). Relief operation would be ineffective if people do not know - “where to go for what serives”. People need information on the developments and changing situation and such needs becomes more acute and urgent during emergencies.
Fulfillment of optimal “Communication needs” should not wait for restoration of Pubic Switched Telecom Networks (PSTN), broad cast stations and cable service – as it may take longer time due to various reasons.
Radio (battery operated) sets – would work as an interim relief to the people in areas without power and telecom services. Medium wave radio sets should be distributed in the far flanged areas cut off from power and telecommunication. The plus point with radio is – they operate on AA / AAA battery and have no dependency on electric supply, power consumption is low, message can be sent from any transmitter at a faraway location if the local transmitter is damaged, no line of site requirement, no range limitation.
Administration should design and issue radio bulletin on relief supply outlets, mobile health services and the area to be covered on hour to hour basis.
Though radio will provide “one-way communication” – but I am sure incoming information will give a sense of relief to the common man in distress and lower his / her anxiety.
Name of people in the shelters / relief camps can also be relayed on the radios periodically. This will be relieving their relations elsewhere from the stress and anxiety.
Notice / Stickers at Places of Worships in Community – is another way administration should plan. People in community visit such places and I am sure displaying information on notice boards at such places will help.

These are tips on – “How to keep people informed” under worst situation when revival of life line infrastructures will take finite time.
(b)   Cleaning and other Material
What a family will need first – when they enter into their home after flood recedes?
“Cleaning house” will be the first priority for family members. Accordingly each family should be provided with
·         gloves, masks and other protective gear 
·         pails, mops, squeegees and plastic garbage bags
·         unscented detergent
·         large containers for wet bedding and clothing, and lines to hang them to dry
·       You may also need to rent extension cords, submersible pumps, wet/dry shop vacuums and heaters.
·         Plastic sheets
·         Sleeping bags
·         Extra cloths

Administration should - Prepare a list of relief supplies which are needed and notify the list widely. The list should not only have name of supply but also should have – numbers / units required, location (s) where it is to be sent, receiver’s coordinates and contact details etc.

List should be updated every week or earlier as may be required. In the current requirement –State admiration should include cleaning supplies (indicative list given above) in standard pack for each household and supply it. Donor must ensure that the packets are readied in such a way that a normal person can carry him / herself without any assistance.
Generally occupants will clean their dwellings and collect mud / debris outside their place. Administration must facilitate disposal of waste / mud quickly in order to avoid any pandemic situation. Instructions should be issued to the dwelling owners on collecting and putting waste / mud outside their home.

(c) Mud Dumping

Debris, mud and waste which have clogged each house hold and streets need to be managed under appropriate plan – keeping potential threat to public health and environmental issues into consideration.

Cleaning operation should start promptly to prevent nuisance conditions, odors, disease, and water contamination from runoff. To enable timely cleanup of flood debris items referenced above, the Department will temporarily not enforce certain regulatory requirements, as described below.

The quantum of mud / debris would be huge (100 of thousands of quintal) and the waste needs to be managed properly. Under the mud / debris disposal plan for J&K flood – the administration should identify disposal sites. Adequate arrangements should be made for collection of mud / debris, community wise. Waste and debris should be handled and stored in a manner to prevent a release to storm drains, streams, ditches, and other surface waters. Waste should be stored in upland areas away from concentrated storm water flows, and in a manner that prevents erosion and transport of materials.

Strict vigil should be enforces to ensure that waste / mud and debris are not released into Jhelum river any other water body in and around Srinagar.

I hope donors and administration would find above input useful. For any questions - author can be reached at

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