Disaster: Following the swelling of the seasonal stream, the Setikharay, the occupants of 22 houses were evacuated to higher ground in Gelephu yesterday.

Incessant rain caused the Setikharay stream to divert and flood Pelrithang village, threatening lives and property.

Of the 22 houses affected by the flood, 18 were located near the Gelephu border gate.

The residents of these 18 houses were evacuated  to the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) campus inside the thromde after floodwater swept muck and debris into their homes located by the RBP camp near the border gate.

The entire border gate area was flooded from the gate towards the Dadgari market in Assam.

The Setikharey had also swollen massively towards Pelrithang, which is around three kilometres away from Gelephu town. The increased water volume from the stream entered nearby settlements in Pelrithang following which residents of at least four houses were evacuated to safer grounds.

Royal Bhutan Army, police, Desuups, officials, and other volunteers helped families move their belongings including cattle and furniture.

Though there are 16 houses below the highway where the stream has diverted, Gelephu gewog administrative officer Kinley Wangdi said only four of the houses were at risk and were evacuated immediately. But the areas around these houses however remains flooded with floodwater from the Setikharay.

Kinley Wangdi also said that though these houses are located at a safer distance, the occupants could also be in danger if it continues to rain through the night.

Floodwaters have also partially washed away walls of one of the houses.

“People living little farther are refusing to move out leaving their homes and belongings though it’s not safe for them to stay overnight,” he said.

Although rainfall slightly abated in the afternoon, it started raining heavily towards the evening in Gelephu.

While RBA, police, Desuups, government officials and volunteers managed to divert the stream back to its original course, it was feared that the incessant downpour would cause the Setikharay to flood again.

The relief team helped evacuees cross towards Gelephu town through the floodwaters on the highway by forming human chains on the flooded road.

Meanwhile, it has been three days since the Gelephu thromde was cut off from drinking water supply. The water treatment plant supplying water to the core town, the hospital area, a guesthouse and two schools is still covered in muck and turbid.  The water treatment plant currently submerged in  floodwater was also under threat of being swept away by the Maukhola river.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Gelephu