16 August 2019
While the flooding in Kerala this summer has not been as serious as it was in 2018, landslides have caused significant damage and loss of life. (photo: CNEWA)
Since it began on 8 August 2019, the incessant rain has forced some250,000 people to take shelter in 1,639 relief camps. The death toll continues to climb — at least 200 have died by one account — and dozens are missing.
Due to heavy rainfall in the monsoon season, severe flooding affected many of the districts across the state. The heavy rain and massive landslides and wind caused extensive damage to houses and vast tracts of cultivated land. The upland regions of Kozhikode, Wayanad and Malapuram districts have been widely flooded and isolated. Heavy landslides occurred. Wayanad, Kozhikode, Idukki and Malappuram were some of the worst-hit districts due to flooding and landslides.
Malappuram district has seen a series of landslides due to heavy rains at Bhudanam, Kavalappara and Kottakunnu resulting in the death of 30 people and 29 missing at Bhudanam alone.
The weather updates show that heavy rain could persist until the end of the week. The flight operations at the Kochi international airport were shut for two days due to the runway being inundated.
Rescue teams— including the Army, Navy, and volunteers — have been working to provide relief and to rescue people hit by the deluge and landslips.
Last year, in August 2018, the flooding was widespread and affected the entire population, but this year the heavy damage has occurred in just a few areas. Also, after last year’s disaster, authorities learned to take timely precautions and warned people. The government was on full alert and made arrangements to rescue people and get them to safety before the flooding. As a result, most of the death toll was caused by unexpected landslides.
In the 2018 flood 15,000 houses were destroyed; the government has rebuilt only 7,000 so far.
In 2019, some 1,060 houses were destroyed and 11,286 houses partially damaged.
The basic needs — such as food, clothing, water, and other items for the people in the relief camps — are being collected at various parts of the state by different youth groups and associations, including church organizations. Collection centers are open at various locations by local groups. People have been generous.
Although it is a huge task to feed around 200,000 people, people from across the state are sending emergency materials. Nevertheless, needs may increase in the coming days.
The main need right now is to provide permanent shelters to the families who lost their land, livestock, agriculture and houses. The government has asked people and organizations to donate generously toward the Chief Ministers Relief Funds, to help rebuild and rehabilitate the damaged houses.
But for those who have lost everything, the coming days look grim.
Wayanad is a picturesque plateau nestled along the mountains of the Western Ghats, on the eastern portion of Kerala bordering Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. At last count, 12 people have died in this district; 6,000 houses were damaged.
In Malappuram, 55 people died and many are missing. A number of bridges and roads in many districts have been destroyed.
I myself spent much time these days mobilizing emergency materials to be sent to Wayanad and Malapuram. I have talked to a few priests to see if they have proposals for any specific needs at their respective areas. They plan to assess the situation once things settle down.
Please keep all the victims of this disaster in your prayers!