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Bravery tales pour in as Orissa floods recede

September 08, 2006 13:45 IST

As life limps back to normal in the flood-affected areas of the state, stories of bravery and survival are beginning to trickle in.

It was providential escape for four daily labourers who were perched atop a tree for over eight hours. Narrating his experience, Narendra Lenka of Chhagharia said "We spent over eight hours clinging to the tree. We had heard that a warning about possible flood had been sounded. But we never thought the waters will reach our area."

Lenka said they were returning home after the day's work in the fields at Angulai village when the calamity struck. "From a distance, we could hear people raise an alarm on the highway. But we did not pay heed for which we nearly paid with our lives.

"A huge wall of water suddenly gushed towards us and swept us off our feet. We did not drown because all of us could swim," he said.

"As there appeared to be little hope, we began to pray. After about 15 minutes, the water slammed us against a giant banyan tree. We clung onto it for eight hours," Lenka said.

Though they shouted for help, no one could hear them. At around midnight, they heard human voices and found a boat coming towards them.

Four youths in a rickety boat rescued them and offered to take them to their village which was also marooned.

The four, however, reached the national highway where they spent the next three days.

On the fourth day, they swam to their village to find that their thatched houses had collapsed. Their family members were, fortunately, safe as they had taken shelter on the top floor of the local high school building.

"I fail to recall the names of four youths who saved our lives. After the water recedes, my first task will be to visit them and thank them for their kindness," Lenka said.

A 14-year-old school student Amit Kumar Beura risked his life to save at least four girls from getting drowned near Uttarkul village, about 40 km from Kendrapara.

Beura, who had never seen a flood, went to the embankment of the Paika river out of curiosity and saw the four girls who were taking bath in a nearby ghat, being washed


Amit dived into the water and pulled them to the bank one by one. "Two of them knew how to swim and that helped me in rescuing them", the boy said.

The class nine student of the local Bapuji Smaraki High School has since become the toast of the riverside hamlet for his bravery.

For septuagenarian Bansidhar Swain, it was a brush with death as the flood waters submerged village after village.

Swain, belonging to Marshaghai, had taken shelter in a building but had come down to feed his cattle. Suddenly he slipped and fell into the water and was swept away.

He managed to reach a Siva temple where he stayed till he was fed and rescued by workers of an NGO.