Back home in Nagercoil, Cyclone Ockhi survivors face an uncertain future

The 20-odd homeless families began picking up the pieces to start afresh after their houses fell like nine pins in the cyclone fury

Published: 06th December 2017 01:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th December 2017 08:49 AM   |  A+A-

A girl drying her drenched books out in the sun at Xavier Colony near Nagercoil Junction

Express News Service

NAGERCOIL: It was a strange homecoming for the residents of Xavier Colony back from evacuation camps. From the rubble, where their homes once stood, the hapless residents began picking up the pieces to start afresh. The 20-odd families calling a tract of land near the railway tracks across the junction their homes are now homeless.

The narrow street, called Xavier Colony, between a pond and a paddy field near the Nagercoil Junction has been the home for these families for better part of a decade. There are chances that a layman could miss these homesteads on the either side of the track. The story of their humble beginnings strangely coincides with another calamity around 10 years ago.

When floods inundated their huts in 2007, the families rebuilt their homes with concrete to not be at the mercy of the elements again. However, nature had other plans and their reinforced house collapsed in the face of harsh challenges thrown by Ockhi.

Speaking to Express, Perinbam, a housewife and resident of Xavier Colony, said, “We were given prior warning. However, even before we could plan evacuation, heavens opened up. We stayed put hoping to leave the next day. However, our houses could not withstand the battering and they succumbed like ninepins. Water inundated the streets and roads were blocked by uprooted trees. The officials managed to rescue and take us to a camp at a government school nearby. The teachers there supported the 54 people. On Monday evening, we were told to vacate the camp. With no house or hearth, we cook food on the streets. Where do we sleep in the night?”

M Angel (25), a mother of two girls, is unhappy with the support government extended them throughout the ordeal.

“For the three days that we stayed at the camp, food was provided by social workers. The government officials provided a noon-meal once and then there was nothing from that side. Now, the officials have told us to return to our homes. What are we to do? Our houses have collapsed, we have lost all our belongings and ID cards,” she adds. For a 13-year-old schoolgirl drying her books out in the open, the concerns are more immediate.

“I lost most of my books in the flood. I have managed to find a few. I am drying it to use again as no one has said anything about new books for us.” Summing up the plight of the marginalised is Prabhu, a social worker.

“These families stay away from the focus and not even political leaders are aware of their plight. This is not an exception, there are scores of similarly affected villages in the district,” he adds.

Ockhi came as a major setback for the coastal district. Thousands of electricity poles fell and many trees were uprooted. While relief works were undertaken in full swing, there were complaints of inadequate relief measures and rescue operations.

The exact extent of damage is yet to be ascertained, while people have already started picking up the pieces of their shattered lives and moving on, awaiting assessment and compensation.

Depression still remains in Andaman sea

Chennai: Chennaiites have to wait a little longer for the next wet spell to commence as the well-marked low pressure area over Southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining South Andaman Sea stays put without making a move.

The meteorological office on Tuesday said the system is likely to intensify into a depression over the same region during the next 12 hours and further intensify into a deep depression during the subsequent 48 hours, before starting to move west-northwestwards towards north Tamil Nadu-south Andhra coast during the next three days.  Only one weather station recorded rain in Tamil Nadu in the last 24 hours ending 8.30 am on Tuesday. Periyakulam in Theni district received 1 cm rain. 

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