After the storm, there is no calm

It's been about two years since Mohammad Ghani, father of three,  constructed a small house after having shuffled from one rented accommodation to another. But, the unprecedented rains and floods that hit Chalakudy, bordering Ernakulam or Kochi, has once again forced Ghani to scout for houses to move his family, who are now living with a relative.

The modest house that Ghani built after two decades of hard work – he migrated from Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu to Chalakudy 30 years back – is now in a shambles, unfit to live. Chanathanadu, the locality near Chalakudy main market, took most of the brunt since it is close to the Chalakudy river, which overflowed into homes and roads in this tourist town.
“I was living in rented houses for more than 20 years and it is only now I got to have a house of my own. Now, only muddy walls, broken furniture and spoiled utensils remain with me. Even the gas cylinders are not working. I have begun looking for houses to ensure that my family has a roof over it,” Ghani told DH.
Though Ghani has managed to convince his relatives to accommodate them for a few days, majority of the people from the area now live at the Panampilly Memorial Government College in Chalakudy – one of the nearly dozen relief centres in the town.  
Almost all residents of Chanathanadu managed to escape from their houses before they came under water. The locality looks like a ghost town with almost every house broken and debris strewn on the streets.
“I have come from the relief centre to clean my house. Nothing has been spared by nature. I lost my home and I am now worried about my son Titus, who is in eighth standard, as all his textbooks and notebooks have been ruined. I have nothing more to lose,” Shaji, who drives an autorickshaw to eke out a living, said.
Not just his house, Shaji lost his autorickshaw also  in the floods and is now clueless on how to earn bread for his family. Shaji had managed to buy a refrigerator and television on instalment, but they are nowhere to be seen.
Since Chalakudy was under water for nearly five days and the market is slowly coming back to life,  not many cleaning materials are available. “I have nothing to clean with. Even bleaching powder is not available in the market,” Byju, a daily wager, said. 

Harrowing time

One can see people trying to put last week’s travails behind and take baby steps towards leading a normal life. Jolly, a 62-year-old man, was seen drying certificates, Aadhaar card and other crucial documents of his grandchildren outside his house.
As water receded in Chalakudy and normalcy was slowly returning, youngsters who helped the fishermen in rescuing those perched atop their houses, recall their harrowing experience. “The water currents were so strong that we just could not row the boats. With much difficulty we went to  locality after locality to rescue people,” Biju, a resident who helped the rescue operations, said.

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After the storm, there is no calm


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