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‘Sons of the sea’, Kerala’s fishermen are the unsung heroes of relief work during the floods

As many as 1,200 members of the fishing community have engaged at least 460 outboard engine boats and catamarans in relief work.

india Updated: Aug 19, 2018 00:07 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Kerala floods,Kerala rains,Kerala fishermen
According to experts, the design of their wood and fibre twin-engine country boat is adept at navigating strong undercurrents and withstanding damage by underwater objects.(HT Photo/Raj K Raj)

Battle-hardened from their struggles in the seas every day, fishermen hit by the Cyclone Okhi have turned heroes in flooded Kerala. Ever since the rains broke out, as many as 1,200 members of the community have engaged at least 460 outboard engine boats and catamarans in relief work.

“The sons of the sea are turning into role models of the people. They saved many of those marooned in the floods, and when things turned chaotic, they rushed out to save lives on their own,” said state fisheries minister J Mercikutty Amma.

According to experts, the design of their wood and fibre twin-engine country boat is adept at navigating strong undercurrents and withstanding damage by underwater objects. And particularly heartwarming is the fact that instead of waiting for government aid to come along, the fishermen pooled money from their own pockets to hire trucks that would transport their boats to flood-hit areas.

“We are just trying to give back here because our lives were similarly devastated when the Cyclone Ockhi struck. And we know how to deal with water, it’s there in our blood,” said fisherman V Rubin, who has been carrying out relief and rescue work in Chengannur. The fishing hamlets of Vizhinjam, Poonthura and Veli, which bore the brunt of the cyclone last November, have sent over 100 boats.

Others are also rising up to the occasion. Although some NRIs offered to return and participate in relief work, the state government asked them to contribute money instead of crowding relief operations.

Several extraordinary tales of courage and love have also cropped up. A woman in Thrissur refused to leave her inundated house unless her 25 pet dogs were taken along. Although the authorities initially refused to give in, they reconsidered after the possibility of her drowning in floodwater became increasingly likely.

Teams from the Human Society International India have deployed teams to rescue injured and abandoned animals. Kennels have been opened up near flooded areas to accommodate them.

First Published: Aug 18, 2018 21:59 IST