In the holy town of Gadhada sanctified by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, the beginning of this year’s monsoon was marked by widespread destruction wrought by a devastating flood of the holy Ghela River.
The drizzling rains of the early morning hours of 1 July became a torrential downpour by 7.00 am. As the waters of Gadhada’s surrounding areas began to fill the river, the heavy rains upriver unleashed a surge that began transforming the Ghelariver flow into a flood. By noon, the Ghela overflowed Rama Ghat and the river waters began to inundate the roads, making transportation impossible.
By 3.00pm, the flood waters caused a complete power outage in the town. Mobile phone towers also failed causing a complete communications blackout. The unexpected deluge put the residents of the low-lying areas in a precarious situation.
From 9.00pm 1 July until 3.00am 2 July the heavens opened up and unleashed torrential rains. Perhaps for the first time in living memory, the townspeople witnessed the Ghela River flowing up to 15 ft. above its banks. 16 inches of unbroken rains within 20 hours caused terrible devastation around the town. As a result of the deluge, around 150 homes were destroyed. As approximately 600 townspeople became homeless, about 40 sadhus and 100 volunteers from the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, Gadhada, rushed to their aid.
The immediate relief efforts included distribution of gathiya, bundi and hot khichdi. In Harijanvas, Seepahi Society, Baabarpara, Kaliyo-Dholiyo Oto, Branch Shala No.2, Chamathimaa ni Deri, Boarding, and SBS Bank Staff region, 700 flood-affected were fed hot khichadi and 800 flood-affected were given bundi-gathiya food packets. In addition, the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir gave individual and group tiffins. Moreover, the sadhus themselves traveled through the area to survey the damage and provide for the current needs of the flood victims. On 3 July 2007, hot breakfast and lunch were served to the hundreds of flood victims. In this calamity, flood-affected livestock were also provided with required fodder.
In addition, the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir’s Dharamashala and accommodations were opened to all needy individuals. Currently around 40 flood-affected families have taken refuge there. As the flood waters in Gadhada begin to recede, BAPS Swaminarayan sadhus have begun visiting the surrounding villages to evaluate the situation of flood victims and begin relief efforts there. When Pramukh Swami Maharaj was informed of the situation, he instructed the sadhus and volunteers to provide as much aid as possible to the flood victims.