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Residents of Kerala's Pandanad Thought It Was Just Another Monsoon… Then It Hit Them

Pandanad, in Alappuzha district's Chengannur taluk, was one of the worst-affected as incessant rains and floods ravaged Kerala. The residents, however, never got a heads up about what was going to hit them.

Aishwarya Kumar | News18.com@aishwaryak03

Updated:August 27, 2018, 1:58 PM IST
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Residents of Kerala's Pandanad Thought It Was Just Another Monsoon… Then It Hit Them
Pandanad residents said that they had no idea what was going to hit them as no prior warning was issued (Aishwarya Kumar/News18)
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Pandanad: More than 10 days after their houses were flooded by the overflowing Pamba river, residents in Pandanad are slowly and steadily getting back to cleaning their houses and clearing the thick mud pile — almost 30 cm in a few homes.

Pandanad, in Alappuzha district’s Chengannur taluk, was one of the worst-affected as incessant rains and floods ravaged Kerala. The residents, however, never got a heads up about what was going to hit them.

Praseetha’s house in Pandanad reeks of slush and mud that had accumulated her home over the last few days.

Alapuzha-Mud
(Photo: Aishwarya Kumar/News18.com)

On Sunday, it was the first day back house after spending almost a week at a relief camp. Praseetha has lost most of her belongings. “We don’t even have a spoon in the house,” she said.

Had there been any intimation, the Pandanad resident added, she and her husband would have been able to save essential items.

It was an ordinary Independence Day holiday for her family. Her mother and her sister’s son were also in the house. Around 5pm, she said, she saw water collecting on the road in front of her house.

“I sat on the stairs leading to my house and watched the water collect on the road. We were all joking around with one another that we lived to see another ‘flood’. But when we spoke about it, we thought it would restrict itself to the roads. We never knew what was going to hit us,” she said.

She remembered that around 6pm that day, she had to finally get up from the stairs and move inside the house because the water had reached her stairs. Even then, she was not worried. Barely a few hours later, the water had gushed in.

“My husband got my mother and nephew out to the house opposite ours, where we thought water would not collect that easily. He had barely managed to get my mother to the other side that the water reached till my neck. There was nothing I could do. The flow of the water was such that I could not place my feet in one place,” she said. Somehow, her husband got to her and together they swam to their neighbour’s house.

At that point, the neighbour’s house was not as inundated as Praseetha’s since the house’s foundation was higher. But water levels were rising. That night they spent at their neighbour’s house but had to move to the terrace the next morning. The neighbour’s house was flooded too.

“We received no information. We had no intimation about the possibility of such a deluge. Had we even received one message, we could have saved some of our belongings and maybe moved to relatives’ houses in other places,” Praseetha said. Her neighbour voiced the same opinion.

Praseetha dialled all possible helpline numbers but to no avail. Either there would be no responses or they would share another number to call. “If not these, they would tell us they are just coming to rescue us. We saw nobody for the next three days,” she said.

Another resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that there ought to be an announcement.

“We have incurred a loss of over Rs 15 lakh. My car was completely under the water. Fridge and washing machine were floating in the water inside the house. Why didn’t the authorities inform us before hand? One message would saved us so much,” he said.

This resident claimed there was no electricity in the area too for them to know what was happening on TV. “There must have been something on TV but we have no idea since there was no power since August 13th or 14th (doesn’t remember the exact date). The authorities should have at least told residents directly about the threat of a flood,” he said.

His house too was home to three other families whose houses were completely flooded. Praseetha remembered how she called up her sister’s daughter based in IIT Kanpur to help after she saw two children stuck to the terrace of another house with just one umbrella with them. Her niece then rallied her friends and her father-in-law to make as many calls as possible.

“It was finally on the third day that we saw the first boat come in for rescue,” she said. On August 18, Chengannur MLA Saji Cherian was seen breaking down on TV asking for forces to come rescue them overnight or “thousands will die.”

Out of the total 10 bodies that had been recovered in Chengannur, five were from Pandanad. “My mother is 88-years-old and she told me she had not seen such a deluge since 1950,” Praseetha said.
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