Soiled clothes, muddy water: After floods, Kerala battles slush and debris
People in flood-ravaged Kerala are staring at an overwhelming task of clearing out days of sludge and water from their homes and salvaging their lives destroyed by the worst flooding in a century.
Incessant rain that began in Kerala on August 8 killed hundreds of people, destroyed thousands of homes, and washed away roads and bridges, leading to an estimated loss of at least Rs 20,000 crore. There has been no rain in the past three days but the flood water is yet to recede from many places.
Forced to abandon their homes, the nearly 10 lakh people currently in relief camps across the state have a bleak and uncertain future. Many houses are still under water and others have broken pots and pans strewn everywhere. And, some have lost everything.
Sabitha, who is living in a camp in Pandalam, said she had a small shed for a home and now its ruined due to the rains. “Muddy waters entered my home when I was asleep with my son. I grabbed my child and escaped in the nick of time,” she said.
Seventy-five-year-old Chellama was preparing to celebrate the harvest festival of Onam on August 25 when the disaster struck. “I had bought rice, coconuts and other provisions as Onam was around the corner. I could not save anything,” she said.
Jalaja returned to her small house from the camp at Pandanad near Chengannur but said it was not in the condition to move back as the only toilet was overflowing and the well dirty.
“The well has to be cleaned. We need water to drink and to prepare food. The toilet has to be repaired. After all this, we can think of moving back,” she said.
The receding flood waters have brought more trouble. Many in Cheruthoni in Idukki district had to deal with huge deposits of sand and muck inside and outside their homes as the waters subsided. They cannot open the doors of their homes and earth-movers are being used at many places to remove the accumulated mud and sand.
There are other problems as well. Many women do not have clothes, which are most sought after in relief camps, according to authorities.
“I left home in a hurry with my family. For the last five days, I am wearing the same clothes. Please give us something clean to wear,” said a woman, voicing the demand of thousands’ of women.
The state government roped in electricians, plumbers and volunteers on Thursday to help people clean their houses and public places of slush and debris dumped by the floods.
It has set up a control room in Thiruvananthapuram to coordinate the cleaning process across the state and the civic bodies have been entrusted with the task of managing the work, PTI reported quoting an unnamed official.
The Kerala Water Authority has taken steps to supply drinking water in affected areas, state water resources minister Mathew T Thomas said.
Thomas said out of the 1,089 water supply schemes affected due to the floods, more than 800 have started functioning and that efforts were on to make others functional.
Experts have said it will take at least a decade for the state to recover from the massive devastation caused by the floods from the onset of the monsoon.
(With PTI inputs)