Kagbeni Flood Recovery: Community Joins Hands to Rebuild After Devastating Deluge

In a remarkable display of unity and resilience, Kagbeni, a town hit hard by a sudden and destructive flood, is witnessing a heartwarming recovery effort. The Jhongkhola river's unexpected surge inundated the town's market, wreaking havoc on homes, hotels, temples, and more. However, Kagbeni's community, along with dedicated government personnel and volunteers from neighboring districts, are joining forces to clear debris and restore the town to its former state. This powerful response showcases the strength of human solidarity in times of adversity.

In the wake of the devastating Kagbeni Flood, the town rallies together for recovery. This collective effort signifies the resilience of Kagbeni’s community in the face of adversity.

19th August, Kagbeni

Last Sunday, as the night came, the town of Kagbeni experienced a sudden flood. The Jhongkhola river from the Muktinath region surged and swiftly engulfed the Kagbeni market in the Waragun Mukti Kshetra rural municipality-4, located in the Mustang district of the Himalpari region. The villagers, who were about to have dinner, were suddenly awakened by the flood. They left their meals and hurried to save their lives.

The flood, including Ledo and Gegran, caused extensive damage, with the river water reaching even the second floor of houses. The water swept Ledo and Gegran into rooms, creating heaps of debris. Buildings that could be washed away were indeed carried off by the flood, while those that remained standing were filled with debris. The flood destroyed 31 structures, including houses, hotels, temples, ashrams, schools, and police stations.

Kagbeni, located at the entrance to the Muktinath Temple, a religious site often affected by natural disasters, is currently facing hardship. The entire district is now working day and night to help Kagbeni recover. People from government offices to private businesses, local residents, villagers, and even those from nearby areas are all involved in the effort to restore Kagbeni to its previous state. Not only the locals, but also people who have moved from other places, are committed to aiding Kagbeni’s recovery.

I have been working for two days already, and I will continue working in Kagbeni for a few more days. The villagers of Kagbeni have united to support each other. Once I reach Kagbeni, I will help clean the mud that has accumulated inside houses. Many people, not just locals, but individuals from all around the world, have come together to offer their assistance,” said Phulmaya Vick, who is also a member of Waragun Mukti Kshetra Rural Municipality-4. “Yesterday, I worked all day, returning only when the day was done. Ledo and Gegran also worked to clear rooms in the flooded houses. The houses were filled with mud, and in some cases, the mud reached even the second floor.

According to her, people from Kagbeni and other rural villages in the district are now working together to help Kagbeni. This is a collaborative effort. The people of Kagbeni are facing challenges, and such difficulties can arise anywhere at any time,” she stated. “Kagbeni is now rising with the help of everyone’s combined efforts.” The buried belongings will be recovered and cleaned.

Because of the suffering in Kagbeni, not only the district’s residents, but also the government employees stationed there, are contributing to the recovery work. Anup KC, the Chief District Officer of Mustang, mentioned that 115 government employees, 60 security personnel from different agencies, and 175 individuals participated in the work on Saturday. They formed three groups to carry out the tasks in Kagbeni.

“We also wanted to demonstrate that the employees stand with Kagbeni in its time of human suffering. All government employees were divided into groups and deployed. Even security personnel not on regular duty were assigned,” said KC. “Everyone is willing to help. Consequently, we organized the district’s employees to assist. The staff provided as much help as possible.

According to Prazia KC, there is a massive accumulation of Gegran reaching up to the second floor of houses. If only locals handle the cleanup, it will take months to clear. For this reason, Prazia KC worked on Saturday to show solidarity with the residents of Kagbeni. “We used household tools to dig and remove as much debris as we could,” he stated.

It’s rare to deploy staff during disasters, aside from security personnel. However, in Mustang, everyone supported this effort. They aimed to create a positive perception among the district’s residents towards the employees. The plan is to have the staff return next Saturday as well,” he explained.

Around 60 displaced individuals from Kagbeni are staying with relatives in the area, as reported by Prazia KC. The rural municipality has arranged for their food. When the flood occurred, about 100 labourers were present. The flood posed additional problems for these workers. Many labourers who had come from other districts for road and field work were managed by a contractor.

The contractor oversaw the labourers assigned to the road project. Some labourers with other jobs have already returned home, but a few facing difficulties have been assisted by local authorities. The displaced villagers won’t be able to return home immediately. While their houses weren’t washed away, clearing the accumulated Gegran will take time. “It will be a while before the Gegran is removed and the houses are livable again,” he commented.

Pramesh Gurung, the spokesperson for the rural municipality, also expressed that it’s better to remove the piled-up Gegran from the houses rather than restore them. An excavator wasn’t used to clear the debris; instead, villagers are collaborating to clean the houses. Kagbeni has received support from all over the district. From government offices to villages, people are joining hands to help.

Gurung mentioned that villagers have not only assisted in removing debris but also provided financial and material support. “Various groups, clubs, and local organizations have offered food supplies like oil, rice, and pulses,” he explained. However, the local support has decreased now.” He added that people from different villages are coming to Kagbeni to offer assistance with household tools. “With everyone’s support, Kagbeni is striving to recover,” he concluded.