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Low-lying areas being evacuated in anticipation of heavy rain, flash floods

Low-lying areas being evacuated in anticipation of heavy rain, flash floods

ISLAMABAD: The capital administration has begun evacuating people from low-lying areas and from the banks of rivers and nullahs as a precautionary measure for upcoming heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and strong winds.

Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat told Dawn that the Meteorological Department has issued an advisory for widespread rain and wind-thunderstorms expected in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, upper Punjab – including Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir – from Tuesday evening to Saturday.

Scattered heavy to very heavy rainfall is also expected in upper parts of the country, including Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Kashmir, on Wednesday and Thursday, he quoted the advisory as saying.

Met dept advisory warns of widespread rain, wind-thunderstorms from Tuesday evening to Saturday

The advisory said heavy rainfall may generate flash floods in these areas, and all the concerned authorities were advised to be alert and take precautionary measures during the forecast period.

Officials of the capital’s revenue department were asked to clear all the low-lying areas and river and nullah banks, Mr Shafqaat said. Local residents have been requested to move to safer areas.

Waste and garbage disposed off on the banks of rivers and nullahs are also being removed to ensure water can flow smoothly and without causing harm, especially when water gushes down from upper parts of the country; announcements have been made from mosques to alert people, he said.

Mr Shafqaat said swimming and boating in rivers, nullahs and dams in the capital has already been banned, in anticipation of rapidly flowing water and flooding. The ban is being enforced by officials from the capital administration and police, with assistance from local notables, he said.

He added that coordination meetings were held with representatives from the Navy and they were asked to put their officials on standby. Naval teams will be called if their services are required in an emergency situation.

“The capital administration is also in contact with the flood forecasting department for updates and to make a prior strategy to protect people and their property,” he said, adding that coordination with rescue departments, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and hospitals has been similarly enhanced.

The CDA is removing waste and garbage from all the nullahs in the capital, he added. State-run hospitals have been asked to arrange life-saving medication, put medical staff and ambulances on standby and arrange beds.

Mr Shafqaat said meetings were also held with Rawalpindi district administration for better coordination and emergency work in areas on the borders between the twin cities.

“The two administrations decided that the one who gets any emergency or rescue call will attend to the emergency first, no matter whose limits the bordering area is located in,” he said.

People are also being told not to interact with or touch electricity poles, to keep their home sewerage systems clear and to call the CDA’s helpline if they need assistance in this regard.

Mr Shafqaat said the capital administration and CDA should be informed if water accumulates in plots or open spaces.

He said they are also coordinating with the administration of Rawal Dam, and information on the water level, the flow of water into the dam and the amount of water discharged are being collected around the clock. The dam administration has been asked to inform the capital administration before the spillways are opened so precautionary measures may be put in place.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2019

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