How an Indian State in the south got mostly immersed in water lately? [Kerala Floods 2018]
Water was coming! It was headed towards there! Now, when I look back into the events that occurred in June, July in Asia, especially the Thai Cave incident, it all makes sense!. Rain in a heavy dose was headed towards the south of India!. Water flooded into my bare-bones on Aug 15 when India as a country was celebrating its Independence Day!. I could feel that even though I resided in far off place, out and safe of all those tons of gushing water currents mixed with mud, which could immerse your home in a few hours. But I could feel it! The prime of my life I grew up there and most of my physical substance and my soul developed there. Kerala is one beautiful tropical place located in the south of India. It is a southern state much different from the rest of India in many aspects.
Where and what is Kerala?
Anthony Bourdain was here for the food! Different from most other Indian states Kerala has a rich spicy cuisine of more non-vegetarian dishes including all types of seafood and most of the regular meat types including beef. Kerala is a hot tourist destination in India!
It is almost after 100 years that the southern state of India, Kerala had a flood devastating as this one. There are several debates on how this became so devastating causing human death toll near 300. Any disaster whether it is man-made or natural will sprout several opinions. Some group of environmentalists attributes the damage caused by humans to the Western ghats. NASA later identified using satellite images that Kerala has received 46.9 centimeter of weekly rainfall from Aug 13 to Aug 20 due to concentrated cloud bands across the Western Ghats which caused the quick massive flooding. This is more than 250% of the average expected rainfall. So that is a lot of water in a small time frame. The right-wing political opponent of Kerala likes to blame it on the ruling left-wing administration on poor management of water resources. The state-run energy company KSEB controls over more than 80 dams across the state which is primarily dependent on hydroelectric energy. They blame KSEB for not releasing enough water gradually a month ahead based on weather warnings which could have reduced the water flow during flood. But this would be a tough decision for KSEB for a state primarily depended on hydroelectric power for its energy needs. The state administration has retaliated saying some of the major rivers which overflowed during floods have no dams across and also blamed the Central Water Commission run by the Indian government for not providing enough early flood warnings.
Another natural disaster which actually caused the higher death toll is the many landslides which occurred across the state along with the floods. Some of the houses and other commercial structures got piled up under earth during the heavy rains. Environmentalists blame on the unregulated stone-quarries across the state and the extensive sand-mining on river banks which has caused degradation of elevated places and rivers. Unlike the west, most homes in India are full concrete structures and in Kerala, most of them are two storied homes. This helped people to move to their second floor when flood water immersed their first floor. But the landslides caused some of these concrete structures to crumble and pile up under the earth causing human loss. The general lack of awareness of how to be prepared for such natural disasters also proved fatal for some.
There might be lots of reasons we can give for the disaster from global warming to water mismanagement to how nature retaliates when it gets fubar!. But most disasters will have some kind of positive outcome and what especially gave me a rare kind of feeling of being an extended part of a species rather than my individual self, is the way how people all over the world came out in support for rescue operations as well as offer support through social media. Compared to other Indian states people in Kerala are different in many respects. Most of the population are educated and has higher social standards of living, health, sanitation etc. People are still divisive in terms of political ideologies, religious beliefs, race etc to some extent but that is normal for any healthy human society. But during the time of disaster and until now everyone started pouring lots of support and young people, in particular, joined hands for rescue operations, helping people who got trapped on second floors and roofs to safe rescue camps. The Indian Army and Navy assisted in airlifting people who are not accessible to ground rescue operators. Since the power lines got disrupted in rain and flood the state was out of power for a few days. All the media channels just became rescue control centers and started live broadcasting of telephone calls from friends, relatives from around the world for people who lost communication and possibly trapped. Social media like Facebook & WhatsApp were full of videos of SOS messages from people trapped in floods who only had a mobile phone running out of battery. The media channels in turn coordinated with the local police and fire force control centers across the state and all played a key role in the immediate rescue operations.
We always have the tendency to look for heroes during such times and there was definitely a community which stood out and played the role of real Bravehearts!. They were the local fishermen community from across the vast coastal region of Kerala. Every year this is one community who gets the worst hit by the monsoon storm and cyclones and other natural disasters originating from the sea. In my opinion, they are the most self-sustained community in terms of recovering from these disasters without complaining much or taking any aid and mostly they are used to this every year. This time it was different. It was rain and the rivers were overflowing and flowing in different directions immersing almost all the districts across Kerala. The sea was fine. But the fishermen community took out their boats from the sea and loaded on heavy trucks and rushed to rescue mission across Kerala. Day and night they organized into groups and traversed unknown terrains, flooded with water and at some places encountered powerful currents of water, worse than the sea, full of reptiles and deep mud from rivers everywhere. But they did not give up. They saved thousands from flood-affected homes and moved them to safe zones. They are the silent heroes. They really are! I am so filled with humanity pouring from everywhere and I wish this becomes the new normal.
The aftermath is bad! really bad!. Property loss is terrible. The state administration has estimated nearly 3 billion USD of loss. As I mentioned most of the single family homes in Kerala can be restored by a thorough cleaning but all the furniture, electronics, kitchen and most vehicles need to be replaced. People affected in Kerala need lots of financial aid and lots of manpower to restore normal living. This might take a year or years! The central government of India nor the national media failed to support or provide enough attention to this major disaster due to the political landscape prevailing in Kerala. The state is run by the left-wing political party now and Kerala has an equally strong right-wing political party on the opposition and they take terms each election. But the Indian government ruled by the far right Hindu extremist political party under the current prime minister Narendra Modi has been hostile to the state because they couldn’t win a single seat in state elections or elections to center for decades. The Indian government so far has not offered enough financial aid and also has been blocking foreign-aid from other countries citing weird foreign policies neither of which is helping Kerala to recover quick. I would like to share the website provided by the state administration urging people all over the world to contribute for Kerala. Kerala needs help now! Need the funds! There are other ways to give using various organizations, corporates but the state administration relief fund is one which is fully auditable and one which has all the eyes on it. This one is quick to reach the people who need it fast. Thanks!
Donate to Kerala Flood Relief Fund here