Life was back to normal at Iritty and surrounding areas, which witnessed massive flooding following heavy rain on Tuesday, on Wednesday.

The town, situated between mountains, bore the brunt of landslips in the northern area and the flood, which was intensified due to the failed shutters of the Pazhassi irrigation dam.

Local residents said the water level started rising suddenly on Monday evening and rose to almost six ft in less than five hours. It was the houses and the block office at Payancheri that were flooded initially.

A lorry parked on the road near the block office was submerged by midnight and rescue and evacuation were in full swing by then. Fibre boats reached the town by midnight and many families were relocated to a nearby hotel and the office of a political party.

Shop-owners swiftly shifted goods while the people moved around holding ropes which were tied across the buildings.

The first floor of a private hospital and its surroundings were inundated isolating the structure. By Tuesday morning, the town area was submerged and many houses near the river and the low-lying areas were devastated.

The water receded only by noon and the destruction to houses and goods were yet to be assessed, local people said.

More than 50 shops at the new bus stand area were submerged, destroying goods such as clothes, electronic and housing appliances, furniture, hardware, fertilizer, food grains, vegetables and other perishables, and medicines. Goods stocked for the festive season were also.

“If the town was back to normality on Wednesday, that is more due to necessity than the resilience of the people,” said a local businessman.

Shop-owners were seen cleaning their shops with the ruined goods piled up outside.

A tip-off from the authorities on the impending trouble or the faulty shutters could have saved us from these damages, many people said.

The town had witnessed a similar situation in 2009 but the ferocity was insignificant when compared to this time, said T. Shamsudheen, owner of a shop.

The temple at Valliyad and mosques at Madathil and Iritty were also affected. Many vehicles, including two-wheelers and heavy vehicles, parked on pavements were damaged. Destruction to crops was yet to be assessed.

Special Correspondent from Thiruvananthapuram adds:

The government has suspended K. M. Gopalan, Assistant Engineer of Pazhassi Irrigation Project (Velliyambra Section) for dereliction of duty.

An official release said, quoting the Minister for Water Resources P. J. Joseph that the engineer had failed to take necessary steps when the overtopping of Pazhassi dam caused floods and loss of life and crops.

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