CHERUTHONI: 1.30 pm: The fifth shutter was opened and the outflow touched 400 cumecs. The big coconut trees that stood majestically on the shrunken riverbed started swaying. The bridge at Cheruthoni town was submerged and water began entering houses along the banks. Panic filled the air and people started shifting to the seven relief camps opened by the Revenue Department. Around 200 families were asked to shift but the gushing water was gulping down more houses.
At 3 pm, three shutters were opened to a height of a metre each and two others were raised to 50 cm. The outflow crossed 500 cumecs. Water started entering the shops at Cheruthoni town, with its fury taking on an ominous tone. The coconut trees were losing the battle. Household utensils, furniture, uprooted trees... the once ‘milky’ water had turned into a stupendous cascade. The outflow crossed the 600-cumecs threshold and roads were getting run over by the torrent.
The relief camps started getting crowded. While the district administration had said that there were only 75 people at the relief camp at Keerithodu Nitya Sahaya Mata Church, a visit to the camp at 5 pm revealed there were 318 people belonging to 98 families. Around 22 houses were completely damaged while 25 others were partially damaged.
At 6.30 pm, the outflow crossed 750 cumecs. Cheruthoni was sinking. The situation was turning grave.
“My house was located on the roadside. It was more than five feet above the river bank. But the water level rose suddenly. At noon, the water started brushing our backyard and in no time the water started flowing into the house.
All our valuables are gone. I had to run out with my wife Vineetha and 10-month old daughter,” Mahesh’s eyes welled up as he revealed his ordeal.
As the villagers downstream were scrambling to save their belongings, KSEB authorities heaved a sigh of relief. The water level in the dam had started to recede. A dramatic turnaround that took an entire day and concerted effort to unfold.