Several Sailors of Yacht Club of Hyderabad rescued several people with their boats during the floods in the city for last couple of days.
National Sailing Champion Gowtham Kankatla and fellow sailors were salvaging boats and engines till 4 in the morning at the Yacht Club of Hyderabad on the night of 13th October in blinding rain and winds as water flowed across the jetty like never in history.
The young sailors went home exhausted and little did the know that they would be woken a couple of hours later and summoned to help with rescue efforts in the city.
Gowtham and his fellow national sailors Yuvorulu Prasad of Rasoolpura and Saibaba Musti, a Bronze medallist in the Optimist Class in 2017 now working at the Yacht Club as a Coach packed up the very boats they had sailed at the Nationals along with an inflatable, radios and life jackets and were the first to reach the low lying areas with a posse of volunteers from an NGO SDIF headed by Mohammad Azam Khan.
“We got a call at 7 in the morning from SDIF saying that about 500 people were stranded and unable to leave home and so our coaches responded immediately. I have never in the past 40 years seen such a deluge at the lake and it was surreal at 2 in the morning as wind and water lashed the Hussain Sagar like never before .
We lost a load of expensive equipment including an engine and one boat sunk as they were never designed to or anchored suit these intense conditions.” said Suheim Sheikh the President of the Yacht Club of Hyderabad.
“All our coaches are trained swimmers and lifeguards and the least we can do is to help out when the city needed these skills ” he added
Gowtham and Saibaba headed out to Tolichowki and Prasad to Saroornagar and interestingly both were working at low lying colonies adjacent to lakes and probably reclaimed from what would otherwise be the lake beds.
When they arrived they were met with hordes of anxious relatives in the crowded narrow by-lanes and were pressed with requests to rescue the stranded which comprised of mainly the elderly, injured, women and children mostly afraid of the ankle and waist-deep water.
Gowtham and Saibaba got to work training the local volunteers led by one Syed Amjad of SDIF who were willing hands in the rescue effort .
Prasad meanwhile at Saroornagar managed to ferry 15 families to safety and headed out to Rasoolpura with his boat as he got a call from Shaik Nayeem of Kriya Sangh Society that the waters in Rasoolpura were rising rapidly.
Low-lying colonies like Balreddy Nagar, Neeraja Nagar, Nadeem Colony and Varasat Nagar were badly impacted and the water is still refusing to recede as on 15th night.
Exhausted the national champions returned late in the evening having trained many local volunteers of SDIF and KKS and left the Yacht Club boats behind which were used across the night by volunteers.
Azam Khan who heads SDIF the NGO tirelessly ran the first response and was full of praise for Gowtham, Prasad and Saibaba who volunteered to come the next day too and waded for hours together from bylane to bylane locating and ferrying the stranded.
What was amazing was that the waters spared neither the poor nor the rich and the numbers of people that were ferried to safety and solid ground by four small Optimist class boats normally used by kids below 15 was close to about 1600 across 2 days.
It is amazing to see the selfless volunteerism that has saved the day for migrant labour and now once again a repeat act after this cloud burst of unprecedented intensity.
If only the planning in our cities is better and our lake beds are not occupied right into the full tank levels as is being done at Saroornagar and Kapra and sadly so many other lakes have full-fledged colonies in what was once a lake bed.
Sunil Bhatti and Rajendra Prasad amongst the volunteers helped keep the anxious relatives calm and the operations ran smoothly as a family after the family relocated to houses of friends and relatives in other parts of the city.
Shravanti Tiwari one of the rescued residents expressed her gratitude as she was a liver patient and had a doctors appointment on the 14th and just about managed to get onto the boat and get to a car to the hospital.
Many who could not walk had to be assisted onto the boats and taken out very carefully with volunteers and Life Guards alongside to ensure that the boats would not topple.
Atul Maheshwari and elderly resident complained of chest pain and needed to be urgently taken to an ambulance from 108 and the boys could be seen rushing their boat in haste to get him out of the area as fast as possible.
The NDRF team arrived at the worst-hit spots on 15th evening after which most of Yacht Club Boats and Coaches returned to get a well earned few days off as declared by the management.
Gowtham, Saibaba and PRasad smilingly said that their fellow sailors were chuckling with delight on their new role as small boat ferry operators in the new rivers of Tolichowki and Saroornagar.