For the third time this monsoon, Mumbai came to a standstill on Wednesday. Six hours of heavy downpour resulted in commuters wading through waist-deep water, exorbitant fares on ride-sharing apps like Ola and Uber (that is, if you managed to score a ride at all), about 280 delayed flights, schools and junior colleges shutting down and, unfortunately, some rain-related accidents (two BMC staffers lost their lives).
The Met Department had issued an Orange alert with a forecast of heavy rainfall for Wednesday. However, at 2 pm, the Santacruz weather observatory recorded 206.6 mm of rain, which falls under the “extremely heavy” category, in six hours. The alert level was then changed to Red from Orange for the next 24 hours.
The trains were also affected and hundreds of daily commuters were stranded at various stations. Those who travel by road had to brave water-logged streets and never-ending traffic snarls.
Reportedly, budget carrier IndiGo's operations were badly affected as several flights were cancelled. According to media reports, IndiGo made its Jaipur-bound passengers sit in the stranded aircraft at Mumbai Airport on Wednesday night.
"There was no dinner. Passengers came onto the tarmac and created a ruckus. Someone even called the CISF (Central Industrial Security Force)," one of the passengers was quoted in the report. The airline will face an inquiry in this matter.
Social media is abuzz with harrowing accounts of Mumbaikars dealing with the heavy rains, the failing infrastructure of their city, and the commute between work and home.
Warning people about the condition of the public transport and water-logged roads, Mumbai Twitter shared videos of the situation to caution commuters. Take a look:
Mumbai rains spared no one, as people in luxury cars were also seen struggling on the roads. Videos of a Jaguar stuck on a water-logged road while a Mahindra Bolero smoothly made its way through the water were shared on Twitter. People were quick to tag Anand Mahindra, the company's chairman, and complimented him for making the sturdy vehicle. However, Anand wasn't too impressed with the comparison.
We won’t brag over this. It’s an unfair contest.The Bolero’s meant to negotiate such landscapes (seascapes?)But now you know why the Bolero’s my favourite vehicle to drive. “Jaguar gets stuck in Mumbai floods: Mahindra Bolero drives through like a BOSS “ https://t.co/c2jXg92uWY— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) September 4, 2019
Here's what our colleagues went through.
The Western Railways situation was pretty bad. There were no proper announcements on the Andheri railway station. After waiting for an hour, I finally got a train for Vasai Road."
- Aaditi Datar, Sr Marathi Writer
"As early as 11 am, people had started posting what areas they were in and opening up their homes to those who were stranded. Western and Central Railways and Metro workers should get paid extra for keeping Mumbai's lifelines running no matter what the weather is."
- Ruchira Bose, Head Of Content
"The rain was at its worst in the morning. My daily 15-minute commute to work turned into 45 minutes of being stuck in traffic. There was a considerable amount of flooding in low-lying areas between 10-11 am itself and as the day passed and the rain wouldn't stop, it just got worse. At about 1 pm, both the access roads to our office were nearly submerged with water up to our knees and people were walking on raised dividers. We decided to leave because we saw that there was going to be a high tide at around 3.15 pm and anticipated the situation to get worse. My boss offered to drop a few of us to the nearest metro station so we could get home. Unfortunately, Link road (the road to get to DN Nagar metro station) was completely flooded and filled with broken-down trucks, buses and people walking through waist-high water. Our car was flooded by the time we reached the metro station and it took me nearly two hours to make it through a 3km distance. The situation did improve by about 5 pm. The water had receded but the roads were completely jammed. Friends who work or live far away took anywhere between 3-5 hours to get home."
- Nidhi Kavle, Deputy Features Editor
Actress Bhumi Pednekar shared that she was en route Khopoli to shoot but was stuck in traffic for more than fours hours. "Been on the road since 1.. en route Khopoli to shoot. Where there is a will..." wrote the Dum Laga Ke Haisha actress.
A video of people pushing a motorcycle through the waterlogged area outside Amitabh Bachchan's house also went viral. In the video, we saw that his residence Pratiksha got flooded. The watchman outside the house was also seen standing in knee-deep water.
Actor Arjun Rampal also shared a video, which was taken while he was braving the water-logged roads. He wrote, "Only Indian cars survive in this weather. Be safe. Drive Indian."
A CST-Thane local came to a stop between Kurla and Sion yesterday. The rapidly rising water levels didn't allow it to resume service and the commuters were stranded. Fortunately, help was at hand. Local residents quickly rushed to help evacuate the train. With the help of wooden ramps, they helped at least 500 commuters disembark.
Twitter handle @mybmc spoke about an auto driver who made sure that his passengers reached home safely. They also started a Twitter thread, #Threadofcare, for people to share stories of these "real heroes" and saviours. Take a look at some of these heartwarming tweets:
#Spotted ! Mumbai’s real hero! Nishant Sharma ji, who made sure @tryshala was back home safe during the heavy showers at a fair price too! Had a similar ‘no terms & conditions applied’ help moment today? Share with #MumbaisRealHero to show gratitude #MumbaiRains #ThreadOfCare pic.twitter.com/3FZVArJQSW— माझी Mumbai, आपली BMC (@mybmc) September 4, 2019
Police personnel helps a person with disability, to cross the stream and get to the other side of the road flooded after rains in Telangana.— Geetika Swami (@SwamiGeetika) September 4, 2019
Think twice before you lash these heroes for the new traffic rules :) #MumbaiRains #TrafficFine #NewTrafficRules pic.twitter.com/caC5CyoHD7
Sahil Vaidya, Co-Founder, Minimalist, also shared how a few locals worked "fiercely" to help others. He wrote in a LinkedIn post, "Standing in the knee-deep water, they'd shout, wave, stop vehicles that had empty seats and literally beg them to help people out. They weren't government/ traffic officials. Just ordinary people, like you and me. I watched as people got into different cars. And out of nowhere, they set me up with an auto. I was deeply touched by the efforts and gave them money, but they refused. When I persisted, he handed it back and said: Boss, we're not doing this for money. We're doing this for the people. If you feel gratitude, just pay your driver well."
"I had no words. I watched with awe as they pulled out all stops just so the city could move forward. It was a big wake up call. We're so busy in our own lives that we rarely think about others. This was a heartwarming lesson in altruism-one that'll hopefully inspire me to internalise this rare virtue," he added.
Every Mumbaikar's priority at the moment is to stay safe through this difficult time. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Conserve electricity and gas, and avoid driving.
2. Mumbaikars should also boil water before drinking it and wear mosquito repellent creams in order to avoid diseases like Malaria. It is also advisable to avoid eating outside as it may be contaminated by the rainwater.
3. Women should read up on how to drive through water-logged roads. For instance, keep pumping the brakes as soon as you're out of the water-logged area.
The Mumbai Police and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have shared helpline numbers for different wards of the city to help Mumbaikars.
BMC helpline: 1916
Central Railway Control Room: 022-22620173
Western Railway Control Room: 022-23094064