Kerala relieved as rains slacken, water levels fall

After days of deluge, Kerala heaved a sigh of relief on Sunday as rains slackened, some dam shutters were lowered, water levels came down and road and rail transport services resumed fully or partially.

India Meteorological Department withdrew red alert issued in 11 districts on Saturday although it still warned of heavy rain in isolated pockets.

If the fine weather persists for three to four days and flood waters recede further, many of the 800,000-odd people sheltered in more than 1,600 relief camps across the state may start returning to their homes.

Flood situation in Kochi, Aluva and North Paravoor improved after water level in Periyar River fell.  But relief camps in UC College, Aluva, and Little Flower Convent School in Panayikulam were crowded with people displaced by flood.

Some of the inmates in the school camp complained to local media of lack of food, clothing and clean toilets.

Amid sobs, a couple of women said they had been wearing the same dress for the past five days since they do not have another one to change. The flood waters came so fast they hardly had time to grab clothes and important documents.

They were also worried about their children’s health as doctors and medicines had not reached the camp yet.

A doctor in UC college camp said more medicines and doctors are coming as the number of inmates has grown from 500 to 5,000.

According to organisers of the camp, food and bottled water are available but power is down. Toilets are not enough and they are being cleaned up three times a day.

Workers from other states, who were displaced by floods, are staying at a guest house in Aluva. Many of them want to return to their respective home states as they have lost their belongings. Free railway tickets may be arranged for them to reach their destinations.

In Chalakudi, 28 km from Aluva, water level further fell leading to resumption of bus services between Angamali and Thrissur which had remained suspended due to flooding on the bridge spanning Chalakudi River.

Although water level fell in Thrissur, Arattupuzha (Arattu River) flowing through Karuvannur village, located 18 km from  the temple town, posed fresh flood threat after it breached the embankment and changed its course.

Latest reports indicate Thrissur will not be flooded as water levels have fallen in rivers, lakes and vast stretches of paddy fields in the outskirts of the town.

In Chengannur in Alapuzha, military’s rescue mission is heading towards its final phase. More military boats and helicopters were employed to rescue hundreds of people trapped in buildings for days. Focus also turned to Venmani after water level in Achankovil River started rising.

Air Force is engaged in airlifting people trapped in isolated pockets. Some 100,000 displaced people are sheltered in various relief camps in Chengannur.

A boat with six people was still missing after it headed towards Pandanad on a rescue mission.

In low-lying Kuttanad, the ‘Rice bowl of Kerala’, the situation is limping back to normal in upper regions. But in lower Kuttanad, the flood situation demands complete evacuation of residents.

A large number of people sheltered in relief camps in Kuttanad are refusing to leave the camps for Alapuzha town. The local administration insists they must leave the present camps since potable water is not available and Alapuza has good hospitals in case people fall ill.

In Alapuzha’s Nedumudi village, dairy farmers are angry as authorities ignored cows during the evacuation. Many cows have perished in the floods. The government will have to face the fire of farmers once the flood situation improves and they return to their village on the banks of Pamba River.

At Aranmula in Pathanamthitta, some people have started returning to their homes. A couple of women told local media they lost their homes and do not know where to go.

More such stories may be awaiting some of the people currently staying in relief camps.