CHENGANNUR: Chengannur has completely recovered from the devastating impact of last year’s deluge. As I stepped out of the train here on August 14, a flood of memories swept through my mind of another journey made in a heavy downpour on the same day last year.
With Kerala reeling under Nature’s fury and Kochi bearing the initial brunt of the floods after Idukki dam’s shutters were opened, I had left for home hoping to be safe little realising how inconsequential was distance to all-powerful Mother Nature! As the waters rose steadily around us in Chengannur, we were left stranded in our little islands of hope, clinging on to whatever respite and succour we could give each other.
With the Army, Navy and Air Force swinging into action and the brave ‘Sons of the Sea’ manning their boats to our rescue, we managed to survive the calamity, albeit suffering substantial losses, but with our lives intact. I revisited the locales that had taken the severest beating from the deluge.
Neervilakom, Angadical, Malakkara and Aikattu, which were among the worst-affected locales, have tided over the calamity and life has returned to normal. George Ninan aka Baby, 88, recalls the horror-filled night when he shepherded his family to the safety of the attic as water swept through his house. “We have been living here near the banks of Pampa at Arattupuzha for ages. The river, which flows just 50m away, had never breached its banks before,” he said.
“After surviving a terror-filled night in the attic, when the Navy came to our rescue in the morning, we saw that the whole locality was inundated. Water had risen upto 5 ft all around our house,” said Georgy, George’s son.
“The ground floor of the houses opposite ours was flooded and people were struggling to stay afloat. We also saw to our shock a migrant labourer being washed away in the gushing water. We don’t know to this day whether he survived or not,” said Bindu, Georgy’s wife.
Joseph Mathew’s face becomes glum when he remembers how his cow died in the flood. “Before leaving home, we had cut her rope, hoping that she would run away and save her life somehow. Days later, when water finally receded and we got back home, we found our cow lying dead in the shed. We had to bury her in our field,” said Joseph, a resident of Arattupuzha.
Meanwhile, life is back to normal all around. With Onam around the corner, children are looking forward to making up for an Onam lost to floods last year. The deluge has left most of us stronger, tougher and more grounded. Survivors have learnt to respect Mother Nature. The Pampa flows on, cheerful as ever, as life continues on its banks.