As the low-pressure area in the south-eastern Arabian Sea intensified into a severe depression on Friday, heavy rains lashed many parts of Kerala and huge tidal waves started hitting low-lying coastal areas. Anticipating massive tidal flooding, the authorities have started shifting to safety people living in the low-lying seaside regions of the southern part of the state.
In some coastal pockets, tidal waves entered the seaside areas, exposing coastal villages to high tides and flooding. Authorities have sounded red alerts in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Ernakulam districts on May 14.
Northern districts, including Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasargod, would be on red alert on Saturday. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state has taken steps to deal with any calamity arising out of the cyclonic storm.
According to the Central Meteorological Department, the low-pressure area in the south-eastern Arabian Sea has intensified into a severe depression. Even though Kerala is not in the predicted path of the cyclone, heavy rains, strong winds and strong sea gusts are expected till May 16.
The Chief Minister said, We should exercise utmost caution in districts and adjoining districts where the Meteorological Department has issued red and orange alerts. "The cyclone is developing and moving faster than expected. It is likely to move north from the Kerala coast by Saturday. The northern districts of Kannur and Kasaragod are most likely to be affected by the winds. Winds are also expected in nearby districts. Therefore, it is important to be prepared," Vijayan told reporters.
He said steps have been also taken to relocate the vulnerable people in all the places. "People should be prepared to move to camps set up by the local bodies and the Revenue Department as per the instructions of the Disaster Management Authority. Extensive preparations have been made. Central and State forces are ready to deal with any emergency," he said.
Nine teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed. Currently, NDRF is deployed in Kollam, Alappuzha, Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Malappuram, Kozhikode and Wayanad districts.
Vijayan said the Army Defence Service Corps has deployed one team to Kasargod and two teams to Kannur. "Two teams of the Army are on standby in Thiruvananthapuram. An engineering task force is also ready in Bengaluru. Two Air Force helicopters are on standby.
They will be assisted by State police, fire brigade and trained civil defence volunteers," he said. The Chief Minister said fisherman should not venture into the sea till further notice.
He said the formation and development of low pressure were being closely monitored by the Emergency Operations Centre of the State Disaster Management Authority. Further information would be communicated to the public in a timely manner.
The control rooms of the District Disaster Management Authorities are open throughout the day, the Chief Minister said. Officials said several people living on the banks of these rivers and low-lying areas were shifted to safer places and relief camps as a precautionary measure.
Overnight rains led to waterlogging and uprooting of trees in many parts of southern Kollam district. High waves and sea incursion damaged several houses in coastal hamlets of Kollam, Alappuzha and Ernakulam district since Thursday, they said.
According to Rekha Nambiar, Commandant, NDRF, as a precautionary measure, nine teams of NDRF have been sent to Kerala. "To Wayanad and Idukki districts which are prone to landslides, we have sent the required equipment," she said.
She also said they were taking precautions also in view of COVID-19. "The personnel have been scanned and we have ensured that they do not have any co-morbidity symptoms. While engaging in rescue operations, they will be taking the precautions," Nambiar told a TV channel.