Coping With Floods Is Only Half the Battle for Mumbai’s Poor

The rains on Tuesday were bad — estimated to be more than 10 inches in 12 hours — but nowhere near the deluge of 2005. The authorities said at least five people died, including one doctor walking home from work who was sucked down an open manhole. By Wednesday, the city snapped back to normal. Traffic flowed down the mud-streaked boulevards and cleanup crews sawed apart downed trees. Parts of the city still smelled fishy, though, possibly from a tidal surge that mixed with the rainwater and submerged entire streets.

As is often the case when real disaster strikes, people seemed to band together. A light rain falling, two men zoomed across a bridge on a small motorcycle, the passenger wearing a yellow plastic rain jacket and the driver wearing yellow plastic pants, apparently from one set they had divided into two.

In the Dhurve family’s neighborhood, many women stepped out of their homes to help clean, wearing gowns in oranges, pinks and sapphire blues — the bright colors an almost cruel contrast to the drab surroundings they inhabit. Their houses are plastic lean-tos, dozens in a row, built on a dirty sidewalk.

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