Kerala

A month after floods, life yet to start over again

Raveendran Ashari and his wife Thankamani in front of their damaged house at Pandanad ,near Chengannur, on Saturday. (Pic credit: The Hindu/Sam Paul A.)

Raveendran Ashari and his wife Thankamani in front of their damaged house at Pandanad ,near Chengannur, on Saturday. (Pic credit: The Hindu/Sam Paul A.)  

Residents of the worst-hit Chengannur and surrounding areas pin their hopes on government to put life back on track

The Edakkadavu ecotourism park on the banks of the Pampa river in Pandanad, a visitor hotspot offering an enchanting view and a nice river breeze, is closed. Inside the park, thick layers of hardened mud encrust its surface and floors of the office building. A row of dried plants and stained seats bear testimony to the devastating floods that ravaged the region. A month after the catastrophe, a couple of casual labourers, braving the sun, are trying hard to remove the mud from the park and bring back its glory.

Residents of Pandanad, one of the worst flood-hit areas in the State, have a long and arduous climb back to normality. Destroyed compound walls, houses that developed cracks, streets filled with impaired furniture, equipment and mattresses and lingering dust pollution are a common scene in the region.

Raveendran Ashari and his wife Thankamani are cooking using a gas stove in front of their house at Vanmazhy. Their courtyard, depicting a warehouse, is filled with all kinds of household items, many damaged. “Right now this is our kitchen and living room,” says, Thankamani standing under the simmering sun on Saturday afternoon.

The couple’s traditional red-tiled roof house was partially damaged in the deluge, making it unsuitable for living. “The waves of water started crashing down from the Pampa river. By noon on August 15, the floodwaters engulfed almost our entire home and consumed everything. We somehow escaped to the terrace of another building and were rescued from there in a boat two days later. We returned to our home from the relief camp at Chengannur 13 days later. We have lost everything in the floods,” says, Thankamani. The couple and a few of their neighbours continue to sleep at a nearby anganwadi after returning from the relief camp. Raveendran, a carpenter, says he has no work since floods. “All my materials have been washed away by the gushing waters. These are unprecedented times and the government should provide us some help at least to repair our houses,” he says.

Like the family of Raveendran, hundreds of other families in the region who fled the calamity and returned home are unsure of when and how they will start over again. The deluge also ravaged other parts of Chengannur including Edanad, Thiruvanvandoor, Mangalam, among other places. Although wells in the flood-hit areas have been cleaned, lack of quality drinking water remains a major issue in the region. Many residents are dependent on water supply for potable water. The water level in the Pampa and other rivers that were in spate a month ago has gone down drastically, resulting in a decline in the groundwater table.

According to the district administration, floods and monsoon fury had claimed 16 lives in Chengannur taluk. The district administration is currently operating five relief camps in Chengannur for 213 people of 51 families. Officials said that they continued to provide drinking water and relief materials to flood-hit areas.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 9:27:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/a-month-after-floods-life-yet-to-start-over-again/article24957676.ece

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