If the week that just went by was wet, we had better be prepared for worse. Monsoon has just begun and we will see more rain in the coming days, going by the weather forecast.
The first continuous rain for days has caused some damage, though not severe, in some pockets of the country. Trongsa was the worst affected, with roads blocked and a few huts washed away by a flash flood. By late afternoon yesterday, the town was put on alert, with a few residents evacuated, as rainwater threatened to cause slides and homes were flooded.
A day’s rain was enough to cause landslides at 45 places on the Trongsa-Thimphu highway. Usually roads in the country start getting blocked or washed away at peak monsoon. Although no major blockades were reported on the main highways, also called lifelines, like the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway, it is a good reminder to be prepared.
Very soon, farmers will start exporting perishable goods, like vegetables and fruits, to India. One day of getting stranded on the road in the summer heat is enough to spoil the perishable goods.
This also reminds us of the fragility of our ecosystem and therefore critical infrastructure like roads. We are familiar with the feeling of being cut off during heavy rain or snowfall, although the latter has become rare now.
Our infrastructure has become more reliable now. Even if they are damaged, we have men and machinery to reach the spot and, within hours, they are cleared. Many would recount when a landslide was a real problem. Some have spent nights in cars or at labour camps, because it would take more than a day for the men and machines to reach the site.
But if infrastructure and technology have improved, so have the vagaries of nature worsened. We are seeing more flash floods, strange patterns of rainfall and related problems. We say nature is unpredictable and therefore it is all the better to be prepared. Unless a major disaster hits us, there is confidence with those concerned in maintaining the road infrastructure. The assurance is that no major road will be blocked for more than a day. That has been made possible with better technology and better coordination.
Another way of getting prepared is not to depend entirely on imported essentials, like vegetables, rice and even meat. Our worry is the impact on our self-reliance, as essentials like food and fuel are cut off. We have improved a lot. If our shops are well stocked, it is during summer that we produce more food items, especially vegetables.
The movement of traffic may be hampered for days, but if livelihood is not hampered, like from the lack of essential items or escalated prices, we will survive comfortably the unexpectedness of nature without having to hit the panic button.
For immediate action, reliable and timely information could make commuters plan their journey, and minimise risk to life and property.