People evacuate from a flood-striken area in Kochi of Kerala State in India, on Aug. 18, 2018. (Xinhua)
by Pankaj Yadav and Zhao Xu
CHENGANNUR, India, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- On India's Independence Day on Aug. 15, people were still asleep in the coastal parts of the southernmost state of Kerala when suddenly water started gushing into their homes. Within minutes, before people could realize what was in store for them, their homes were inundated with water-level reaching up to 2.4 meters.
Soon there was panic all around, with the elderly, women and children crying for help. While some climbed on to their rooftops, others struggled to save their precious things from being washed away.
Next couple of days brought miseries with no help reaching them and their being left to help themselves. It was only from Aug. 17 when the relief and rescue work actually began, after the extent of damage was gauged by the state and central governments.
"I along with my parents and sister somehow spent two days after the flooding waters entered into our house. But then fishermen from nearby Kollam district reached our place along with their boats, and they rescued us and brought us to this relief camp," Praise Raju, a student of management studies who has been staying inside a relief camp in the state's Chengannur area, told Xinhua.
"There was panic and utter chaos all around on the morning of August 15," he said. "People had no idea what to do. My family and our neighbors were left to fend for ourselves for the next 48-60 hours. I haven't visited my house for the past five days. I plan to go tomorrow for the first time to see what's the situation inside my house."
Power supply has not resumed yet, as power cables have been snapped by the deluge. Water level has started to recede, and those who managed to return to their homes are busy cleaning the silt which came along with flooding waters.
All household electric appliances like refrigerators, television sets, washing machines have become useless as they lay submerged in flood-water for days together.
People in flood-hit India's southern state of Kerala charge their mobile-phones at a relief camp inside the 'Parumala Seminary' in Chengannur area. (Xinhua/Stringer)
"Water first flowed in through the underground sewerage system, and then the gushing waters entered into our house from the nearby overflowing river," K.A. Jose, 61, a resident of Pandanad area of Chengannur, said. "Soon the kitchen and all the rooms were inundated. The force of the water was such that the rear wall of our house fell apart. Now, all the water in our well is contaminated. All our kitchen utensils are lying dirty with silt stuck on them. For drinking water I made temporary arrangement by collecting the rain-water."
According to Jose, people in his locality depend on wells for sourcing water, and do not prefer water connections provided by the state government. "Underground water level is at a depth of nearly 30-40 feet. We normally get clean water, but now after the floods all the wells are filled with contaminated water full of silt," he said.
Several road stretches in Chengannur area of Alappuzha district still lay flooded, even as normal vehicles like cars and two-wheelers not able to cross the standing waters. People have no other option but to wade through on foot.
Food being prepared inside a relief camp in the 'Parumala Seminary' in India's flood-hit state Kerala's Chengannur area for nearly 3500 flood victims who are staying here after being rendered homeless in the deluge on August 22, 2018. (Xinhua/Stringer)
Speaking to Xinhua, the state's water resources minister Mathew Thomas said that elaborate arrangements have been made to carry out relief and rescue work.
Meanwhile, the Cochin Airport, one of the main airports of the state, remains shut as it is still said to be flooded, and will be opened for normal operations only after Aug. 29, said official sources.