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Cyclone Gaja: the aftermath

Gaja blows away green cover of Keezhathur

The village known for its jackfruit trees presents a dismal picture

November 18, 2018 08:29 pm | Updated 08:29 pm IST - Pudukottai

A farmer removes broken branches of a jackfruit tree at Keezhathur village in Pudukottai district on Sunday.

A farmer removes broken branches of a jackfruit tree at Keezhathur village in Pudukottai district on Sunday.

A dusty track abutting the Pudukottai - Alangudi main road with damaged branches and tree trunks, dangling wires and damaged tiles of houses on either sides leads to Keezhathur village.

Sixty-five-year-old George is clearing the damaged branches of coconut and jackfruit trees which were uprooted during the recent Gaja cyclone. “There is hardly anything left in my grove”, he says.

The fertile village known for abundant presence of trees of various species, presents a dismal picture today. Well-grown trees of coconut, jackfruit and teak have all got uprooted and badly damaged in the devastating winds.

With no power supply and basic facilities, villagers of Keezathur say Gaja had flattened their lives too. “It will take at least another decade for us to come out from the huge loss and destruction unleashed by Gaja,” says Jayakumar, another villager, with a sense of pain.

Trees of various species raised on several acres at Keezhathur got uprooted in the early hours on November 16, say villagers. Keezathur is known especially for its jackfruit. But nothing remains now, says Jayakumar pointing to the hugely damaged trees.

Until the cyclone struck, greenery used to obscure localities from one another. Now, the entire expanse is barren, says another villager, Suresh Kumar. Walking slowly, 70-year-old Palani of the same village said he had never seen a cyclone of this magnitude in his life time.

The grim picture is not only confined to Keezhathur but also to villages along the Alangudi road including Vadakadu and Kothamangalam. Along the Pudukottai - Alangudi and Pudukottai - Aranthangi main roads, several roadside trees were also uprooted.

The recovery from this impact is definitely going to take a very long time, and will even affect the well-being of the next generation, the villagers lament. “We really don't know how to cope with such a devastation. The future looks bleak for all of us”, says 60-year-old Jayakodi, a resident.

Villagers claim that they themselves removed the damaged branches and uprooted trees on the track leading to the main road from the village. There was none from the administrative machinery to lend a helping hand, rued Jayakumar. Villagers themselves were helping out those housed in the safe shelters by providing them food, he added.

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