Sixty eight-year-old Muhammad Aslam last saw his two-storey house the day fierce rain unleashed havoc on his village surrounded by hills and the Pullakayar river on the foothills of the Western Ghats.
From what he has been able to gather, the torrents of mud, water and debris unleashed on the village on Saturday, swept away the structure he called home. His searches to find it at Koottickal Chappath, where it had stood earlier, have been without success ever since.
“As the water level began rising, I along with my wife Seenath moved to another house of my relative but the water chased us there too. When we came back in the morning, we could see nothing but a heap of debris at the location where my home stood,” said Mr. Aslam.
He is not the only person in the village who desperately searches for his home.
Rasheed, whose house was located near the Chappath, Rishitha who had escaped the flood waters with her bed-ridden mother on the shoulders, or K.M. Shahul of Kochalumoottil all have similar experiences to narrate. “I looked out the window and there were no more homes and had to runaway with empty hands,” said Mr. Shahul. Having been accommodated in a rescue camp, they spent the night hoping to find someone with information about their loved ones. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the officials also worked to organise socially distanced relief camps, though with little success.
On Sunday, some of them scrambled over the unstable terrain to rescue possessions from the muck, but the rescue personnel asked them to stay away.
While the government agencies are yet to complete assessment of the total losses, preliminary reports suggested that houses located within a two-kilometre stretch on the banks of the Pullakayar river were destroyed with the water level rising upto 15 feet.
The heavy rain and landslides were also reported to have caused flash floods in the Thalunkal, Yendayar and Kokkayar rivers, the tributaries of the Pullakayar. Hundreds from Kodunga, Ilamkadu, and Koottikkal Chappath have been shifted to the relief camps opened at St Mary’s School, Koottikkal, and JJ Murphy School, in Yendayar.