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'I won't forget that night ever'

August 18, 2018 10:56 IST

'We used to enjoy looking at the serene Periyar river every day, flowing quietly and calmly.'
'How everything changed in a day!'
'The quiet Periyar became angry, aggressive, ferocious, terrifying everyone in its way.'
'I have not seen this kind of rain fury in my entire life.'

An aerial view of a flooded locality in Aluva. Photograph: PTI Photo

IMAGE: An aerial view of a flooded locality in Aluva. Photograph: PTI Photo

The rain fury continues in Kerala. It has not spared anyone or any place in the entire state, but the worst affected areas are the central and northern parts of Kerala.

Asia's largest arch dam, the Idukki dam, opened all its five shutters releasing lakhs of litres of water which finally ends up in the Periyar river.

On the whole, 33 dams in Kerala had to be opened.

With the Idukki and Idamalyar dams opened, Aluva, the town that is on the banks of the Periyar, was put on red alert a couple of weeks ago.

Aluva has been one of the sought after locations and there are several high rise apartments on both the sides of the Periyar. Naturally, all those living on the banks are frightened.

Shyama Haridas, a music teacher, has been living in a beautiful flat overlooking the Periyar for the last eight years, but this is the first time that she saw the real fury of the river.

She tells Rediff.com's Shobha Warrier what she saw:

 

When all the five shutters of the Idukki dam were opened last week, we expected the water level on the Periyar to rise.

Though it was reported that 800,000 litres of water was released per second, the water level did not level considerably.

Perhaps that made us a little complacent. We thought the worst was over and we would be safe and did not anticipate a situation like this.

By the 15th afternoon, we saw the water level rising alarmingly on the Periyar.

It was a disturbing sight. Still we thought since we lived on the second floor, there was no cause for alarm.

By the evening, water slowly started filling up the ground floor of our building. Other than parking, there are a couple of flats on the ground floor and they had to vacate immediately.

Still, we were not that worried. Even in 2013 when the Idamalayar dam was opened, there was not much damage. Nobody had to vacate their home.

But it was not to be. This was 2018 and what unfolded was something totally different.

When we found that water was rising at an alarming pace, we got panicky. By then, it was dark and there was no way we could get out of the building.

It was one of the nights I will never forget in my life.

Heavy rains lashed outside and we could hear strong winds too. We had no idea what awaited us in the morning.

I knew we had to somehow leave the apartment in the morning. So, I gathered all the important documents in a bag and got ready for any eventuality. None of us in our apartment slept that night.

As expected, it was a scary sight. The entire ground floor was flooded and water was still rising.

We sent messages through our friends and relatives to the emergency services to rescue us.

By afternoon, a boat came to our apartment and getting onto the boat from the first floor was such a frightening experience.

As we were escaping, on the way we could see many people like us trapped in many houses.

People standing on the terrace with their houses fully under water, shouting for help.

We told everyone that the boat would come back and help all of them escape. The boat did several trips and evacuated all the people from our apartment and other places too.

We took all the people from our apartment to my mother-in-law's house in the city and we ate there. We had not eaten anything the previous night and also in the morning, mainly because of fear.

By evening, we found that water was entering that area too. We didn't want to take a risk again.

We wanted to escape before that house also got flooded. You can say we literally ran away from there.

We drove to Perumbavoor which was not that affected then. We got ourselves a room in a hotel and settled here.

There, we found many people like us there who had escaped the fury of water.

Now, we are trying to see whether we can move to the homes of some of our friends or relatives in Ernakulam.

We know our vehicles are under water in the apartment, but we are not worried about those material things. All the people from our apartment escaped.

Had we remained there without water and electricity with water all around us, it would have been a terrible experience.

I believe in the Supreme Power and that night when water was rising on the Periyar, I was praying all the time.

God has been kind to us because we didn't have to go to any camps. There are hundreds of people stranded on the roof tops even now and lakhs of people in various camps. I am praying for all of them.

We used to enjoy looking at the serene Periyar river every day, flowing quietly and calmly.

How everything changed in a day!

The quiet Periyar became angry, aggressive, ferocious terrifying everyone in its way.

I have not seen this kind of rain fury in my entire life.

People say this is the worst Kerala has seen in a century. I feel nature is angry with us for exploiting it and not respecting it.

It is nature's reaction to the arrogance of human beings who think they have conquered everything and they are the supreme beings.

The truth is, in front of nature, we are nothing. Rather, we are helpless.

I have to say something about the people who are working selflessly.

We have this habit of criticising the police and the administrators saying they don't do anything, they don't work sincerely. vBut I saw a different face of the police and the authorities that day.

If not for the kind policemen, we would not have escaped that day.

I was so scared to step into the boat, but they helped me with kind words and action.

I have no words to thank them, all those men who are working relentlessly day and night helping people.

They are the real Gods.

Shobha Warrier / Rediff.com
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