Kerala floods – The flood of the century
The Kerala floods in India has been making devastating headlines around the world. Kerala is witnessing the worst flooding in 100 years. Over 2,086 mm of rainfall has hit this region in the space of two weeks. So far over 360 lives have been lost and over 5000 relief camps have accommodated over 1.2 mil people. The rain has impacted hundreds of villages, causing extensive damage and displacement in Kerala. Rescue operations still continue to date.
We had planned a 6 week trip through India, with Kerala our first stop. Little did we know, just what a journey it would turn out to be as we travelled through the Kerala floods.
First stop Varkala
We arrived in India on the 1 August 2018 at Trivandrum airport and drove straight to Varkala Beach where we were spending our first few days. We noticed a few water locked areas during our drive to our hotel but didn’t really think much of it. At this point we had no idea how bad the rain had been and how bad it was going to get and how terrible the impact would be around the country.
We arrived at our hotel and without wasting any time we packed our waterproof day bag and decided to explore the famous Varkala Ciff. Our hotel manager told us that the last few days it had rained so hard that they had flood damages to some of the rooms. She also warned us to stay away from the ocean as the authorities have put warnings out. As we walked down the cliff pathway we heard sirens and an ambulance rushed past us. There had been a landslide and the ocean had claimed a huge part of land, destroying a part of the path along the cliff. A tourist was injured, thankfully they survived. This was our introduction to the rains in Kerala. Although it rained on and off over the next few days, the weather looked like it was getting better.
Flooded Backwaters of Alleppey
A few days later we caught the train to Alleppey where the rain steadily got heavier and heavier. Walking down the road from our hotel, there were times that we were knee deep in water, other times we had to try avoid slipping through all the mud puddles.
We had booked a house boat for a night to discover the backwaters. The driver confirmed that the boat would still run and we agreed. Seeing the aftermath from all the rain was devastating, we saw at least a hundred homes flooded, some submerged meters under water.
Many families didn’t want to leave their homes and were still perusing their daily activities, despite their homes being water logged. We started realising just what a toll the rain had on Kerala over the last few weeks. We felt helpless and our hearts were breaking for all the families affected. Many roads were flooded, some closed and others just a mud pool. Staying on the houseboat we had mainly rain and heavy winds.
Fort Kochin under water
We left for Fort Cochin on the 15 August as we were due to fly to Delhi on 16 August. Our tuk tuk ride to Alappuzha train station was quite a hair raising adventure. The roads were so flooded that many were closed or diverted. The rain gushed down from all angles with no intention of stopping. Even with the tuk tuk flaps closed, we were drenched.
When we arrived at the train station we were notified that we had to wait for the authorities to confirm if the trains were still able to run. We eventually got the all clear! After many delays and a few unexpected stops we reached Fort Cochin.
We asked the tuk tuk driver to take us to the hotel but he gave us some ridiculous elevated price to get to our hotel. He explained it was a nearly impossible to get to out of the area as the roads were closed and others under water. We asked around and found a cheaper tuk tuk but the first guy wasn’t lying when he said it was almost impossible to get out of the area. Driving to our hotel, there were times our legs were half way under water, it felt as if we were on a boat. I don’t know how the tuk tuk’s engine didn’t cut out but the driver’s giggles put us at ease.
After we arrived at our hotel, we were excited to venture out but our plans quickly became dull as we heard it was impossible to get around the city. After an hour we managed to get a Uber driver to take us to the Broadway market but within an hour we were once again soaked and decided to head back. It rained for 3 days solid.
Our hotel was on the waters edge of the harbour. All ferries were cancelled with not 1 boat operating. We watched helicopters fly back and fourth and heard them well into the night performing rescue operations. The T.V service was down due the weather so we couldn’t watch the news. We only overheard conversations about how flooded the area actually was. Eventually we realised how bad the situation was when we got the first announcement on Facebook to say that the airport has been closed for a few days. With our flight to Delhi cancelled we immediately rescheduled a flight for a couple of days later. The next morning we got another update that the airport was now closed until the 28th August due it it being submerged underwater.
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Panic set in! Another cancelled flight that we have to explain to our travel insurance and with the airport closed for 10 days we had to find an alternative. We realised that we had to get out of Kerala as the situation was getting worse each day. Again we booked a new flight. Our third attempt was from Kozhikoda airport (180km away) straight to Varanasi. With our bags packed and ready to leave, our hotel informed us that they it has been announced that all train services had been suspended and most of the roads were blocked. Again, we were stranded.
Fourth flight lucky?
Finally, after spending many hours online, we managed to find a flight from Trivandrum to Hyderabad and then to Varanasi. (which was our next stop, since we missed Delhi) The problem was that we still had to get to Trivandrum. With no trains. the only other way was to take a taxi. We spoke to the locals who confirmed there was still one road open but it will take a long time. We found one brave soul who was happy to take the drive so we could catch our flight in the morning. It turned out to be the longest Uber ride we had ever taken. After 8 hours and 204km we arrived in Trivandrum. We could see the extent of the damage caused by the floods the whole drive down.
Many buildings were submerged under water, businesses had to be closed, damage was everywhere and some homes had people walking in water knee deep. Banks were only allowing 2000 Rupees withdrawal at a time, water was running out and supermarkets had long queues of people trying to stock up on food. Our Uber driver told us that by the morning most shops wont have any food left. While driving to TRV, we donated to various communities doing collections toward food and supplies for those who lost their homes. It was heart warming to watch how communities were working together.
We finally made it to Varanasi
We eventually made it to Varanasi where we captured some stunning photos of the ancient city. We finally had full access to internet and the news and stated seeing the extent of the damage which was devastating! We cant believe how much damage has been caused and all while we were there. We have seen and read some amazing rescue stories. Strangers have put their own lives at risk to help others get to safety. There are also heart breaking of families loosing loved ones, homes destroyed and hundreds of thousands in relief camps. Seeing the disaster in person has really hit home and made us realise just how lucky we were.
How can you assist the Kerala floods disaster from abroad?
Many have classified the Kerala floods as the worst flood of the century. Locally, thousands of organisations are collecting donations, supplies and contributions at local drop off points. However, the country is going to need millions too for medial assistance, supplies, repairs, rebuilding and to assist all those who have had to turn to relief camps. It is going to take years for Kerala to recover from this disaster. If you would like to assist you can make donations of any amount to any of the organisations below:
Have you been affected by the Kerala floods? Let us know your thoughts and comments on this post below.
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