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‘It seems God has forsaken us’: Kerala flood survivors inundated with problems

Kerala floods: Sights of death and destruction are all around. Many areas in Pandanad near Chengannur in Alappuzha district are still covered in mud and slush as animal carcasses are strewn around and their stench has filled the air.

india Updated: Aug 21, 2018 18:21 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Kerala flood,Kerala rains,Kerala flood damage
People at a relief camp in Alappuzha district in flood-hit Kerala. Nearly 10 lakh people, one lakh of them children, are staying in relief camp all over the state.(Raj K Raj/HT photo)

They say the worst is over in Kerala. People are returning to their homes after spending days in relief camps and essential services are gradually being restored. But the damage inflicted by the worst flood in a century is huge.

Sights of death and destruction are all around. Many areas in Pandanad near Chengannur in Alappuzha district are still covered in mud and slush as animal carcasses are strewn around and their stench has filled the air.

People are racing to retrieve whatever is left at their homes that were submerged in the flood waters for days.

Locals say they have encountered snakes and snails as they went back to start their lives. Some were even bitten by the snakes in Paravur and other areas as the reptiles entered homes from the overflowing ponds and rivers.

Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala known for its picturesque paddy fields and shimmering waterways, is still under water.

“We had vast paddy lands and consumed the best quality of rice. Now, we are paupers and forced to eat low-quality rice in the camps. It seems God has forsaken us,” Karthyani Amma of Nedumudi said.

Watch: Army jawans conduct perilous rescue missions in Kerala floods

Amma was speaking for most people in the state, where more than 200 people have been killed and ten lakh, with more than one lakh children, were sheltered in relief camps amid the biggest rescue operation in the country.

The children, who are below 15, will be particularly vulnerable to the disaster and psychologists say some of them may need counselling to handle the stress.

It will be a while before the infrastructure in the schools is restored for the children to return to their classes. Most of them have lost all their study material and books in the devastating floods.

The floods were triggered by 10 days of an unusually heavy bout of rains in the state from August 8. Rainfall in the state during the monsoon has been more than 40% higher than normal, with torrential rain forcing authorities to release water from dozens of dangerously full dams, sending surges into rivers that then overflowed their banks.

The state government has estimated a loss of Rs 20,000 crore, with Idukki, Malappuram, Kottayam and Ernakulam districts being the worst affected in the Kerala floods. Government officials say the state’s topmost priority is to rescue people and provide lakhs of the affected with relief materials. They, however, admit that rebuilding the state will be a “daunting task”.

The government estimates about one lakh buildings, including people’s houses, have been damaged, over 10,000km of highways and roads and hundreds of bridges have been washed away, and crops in millions of hectares of land have been lost in the Kerala floods. It will start the process to accurately assess the damage after the relief and rescue work is over, an official said.

But experts say that an area under severe flood could take up to a decade to fully recover.

First Published: Aug 21, 2018 12:08 IST