I live close to the bank of the Punatshangchhu river, and the area was declared red-zone by the experts who were also kind enough to let us know that eight glacier lakes were waiting to burst downstream on to us anytime soon. I am surprised to find myself having a good night's sleep everyday even after knowing that my bedroom may become the riverbed someday soon.
Astrology has pointed at many natural disasters this year, especially flood, and I think I should stop my Bhutanese complacency and strive to know a few things in preparation for the year. I have heard of GLOF mitigation project, where hundreds of people were engaged in lowering the water level of the potential lakes. I don't know what finished first- work or the money! I also heard of installation of lots of early warning systems, where by people could be alerted before the flood reaches them. Awareness programs were conducted among people living in red zone, to let them know that they are at risk. However the most important piece in the whole puzzle is yet to come in and I wish to know when is it coming.
Three days ago, it was cold and raining and I was working late into the night as usual. When I was about to go to bed I heard a siren. What was it? Any ordinary Bhutanese would ignore it but I live in the red zone and I know there is an early warning system in place, which immediately made me panic. I went out to confirm the source of the siren. It seems to come from the police station or may be the hospital. I waited for a long time before I finally convinced myself that even if it was the flood it may not reach me.
So the missing piece in the puzzle is how does the flood siren sound? How different is it from the sound of a fire engine or an ambulance? If we can't make out the sound of the flood siren, what it the use of investing so much money in having them? When is the right time to tell us the secret of the flood siren?
A mock drill in the red zone should be possible when mock election was possible across the country, and the right time to do it may be now because natural disaster may not wait for us to prepare.
And as I was sleeping that night I also wondered where to run if at all the flood comes. Yes, where to go? Have we identified the safe place to run to? And who will come to give us instructions- Police, Dzongda or the Gup? Or are we going to repeat the mistake we made during the last earthquake of listening to rumors and spreading them in the absence of proper information dissemination system?
Well, experts were kind enough to let us know the bad news that we are trespassing the way of raging water but I wish they also told us the good news of how we could keep ourselves safe.