If this post helps in saving at least one person from the flood in Kerala, my mission is accomplished. One of the worst-hit district in the flood in Pathanamthitta. My mother’s house is in Pathanamthitta district and I had spent my childhood vacations in some areas here. I got a lot of friends and relatives in different parts of the district. So I feel my article will give you some guidance to survive the flood.
Wednesday night there was a television announcement that there will be more flooding in Pathanamthitta. Pampa river was flooded and so there was red alert in the district. I called my relative whose house, I made a mental calculation, was away from the main road and close to a side stream of river Pampa. So there was every chance of their house getting flooded and they getting cutoff. I called them at 11:00 at night and they were oblivion of the grave situation. As I guessed, the house got surrounded by water next morning and they are stranded in the house. And their phone is switched off now.
Thursday Morning, there were news reports that Ranni in Pathanamthitta was flooded and water was rising. So I called a friend there who had earlier sent WhatsApp pictures of his house surrounded by water. He said the water was at the doorstep, and the water was receding. He said he was not planning to leave and in case of emergency he will shift to his neighbour’s house which is on a higher area. His phone is also switched off.
Then I came to known that a relatives house in Chengannur, which has never seen a flood before, was flooded. The houses in their neighbourhood were flooded so around 15 people were staying in their house. Thankfully water had not entered the house but there was water up to neck outside the house. I called them and asked if I should contact the rescue team to help them. They were unable to give a conclusive answer about whether they wanted to leave the house. The 84-year-old head of the family did not want to leave the house at any cost.
In the evening there was a news report that water will increase in Chengannur. So they were rescued by boat and shifted to their relatives’ houses.
Thursday evening I came to know that a relative in a low lying area, (My maternal grandparents’ place) has escaped to a safer place after wading through water, for 3 km, with kids. Earlier I was worried for them because someone had put a video of a roaring Pampa and warned people on the banks of the river to evacuate immediately. This relative resides on the banks of river Pampa. This area is a low lying area with paddy filed on both sides of the tarred road. Flood is an annual affair for the people here.
The children here learn swimming before they can walk. The can rowboat and catch fish. In my childhood, my cousins here used to hold breath and stay underwater and we used to count. In short, the children here know how to survive the flood. And they enjoy flood. The houses are built on a higher platform, so water won’t enter the house. So they can cooley sit on the veranda and do some fishing in flood water. During floods, costly timber sometimes floats and that is a big catch (watch the movie Naran to know more).
I called him after he reached his wife’s house, in a safer place. He said his house is single-storeyed and water was slowly entering the house. He only had phone connectivity. There was no electricity or social media, so he was unaware of the gravity of the situation. He decided to escape only when many people started calling him and requested him to leave the place. He said his neighbour, who has a two-story house, is still there staying on the second floor. They have no plans to escape.
I feel there is a difference between all the noise and the panic that is created online, and the situation of those who are facing the threat of flood.
We panic because we are flooded with images and videos of the flood. On the other hand, the people in Pathanamthitta do not have electricity. So they are not watching television. When we try to brief them of the gravity of the situation they are unable to grasp the issue.
They are trying to stay in their house and hold on to all their belongings.
When the water reaches the front yard, they wait. But once the water in inside the house they are unable to leave.
When the flash flood gushes in you are not given the time to carry belongings to the top floor. The friendly river is a foe for the time being.
Not all area in Pathanamthitta is flooded. One relative said they do not have dams nearby. Their house in on the top of a hill and the river flow at the bottom of the hill. So the water will not come to their house. They are praying that no landslides occur.
My feeling is if you are in Pathanamthitta and you have a river or a dam in the 4 km vicinity, then please try to move to a safer place. Or you make a mental calculation of the escape route so that things will be easier if there is a grave situation.
Don’t wait for the water to come knocking at your doorsteps. Move your valuables, food and drinking water to the top floor. If you have food and telephone, and no medical issues then you can wait patiently until the help reaches you.
Keep all the torch and emergency lights ready. If you have to make an aerial escape then a torch is useful. The rescue team on the helicopter can spot you if the torchlight is on.
You might be sitting assured that in case of emergency you can contact the rescue team and they will help. Actually, the rescue team is concentrating on people stranded from Wednesday. They will reach you but it will take time.
In many places, the rescue team has not reached because the calamity is so huge. The government is doing their best, and so is the army and volunteers. As natures fury is not subsiding the rescue work is increasing.
I write this post because I feel some of you who are under the threat of flood will read this post. And you will make the right decision to reach a safer place before the situation worsens.
Also, those who are away from home can guide their loved ones in flood-hit areas to reach safer destinations.