Houses flooded, but not the spirit of Palakkad

Murugamma Krishna, a widow who must feed her two children, lost almost all her belongings and her modest accommodation might collapse anytime.

She was moved to a relief camp in Palakkad last week after her house came under water along with 250 families from across the town and surrounding areas.

But, Murugamma is not of the kind who would worry about the past for she has to be on her feet to raise her children.

The woman has already begun working though her minor children are playing with their friends at the ‘Apna Ghar’— the migrant hostel that has been converted into a relief centre.

“My mother has gone to work. Since water receded in areas where she works as a daily wage labourer, she began working since Monday. But she comes back in the evening to the relief centre because we just can’t step into our house,” 16-year-old Aswadhi Krishna, Murugamma's daughter, told DH.

Volunteers at the kitchen of Apna Ghar — the relief centre in Palakkad. DH Photo/ E T B Sivapriyan
Volunteers at the kitchen of Apna Ghar — the relief
centre in Palakkad. DH Photo/ E T B Sivapriyan

And her friend Sumathi’s tale is no different.

Sumathi along with her parents were moved to the relief camp last week after water entered their flat near New Kerala Theatre in Palakkad town.

Sumathi’s family was allotted a flat by the municipal corporation under a housing scheme.

“My father and brother are bed-ridden for long. My mother is the only bread-winner of the family. She has gone out for work and she will come back in the evening,” Sumathi said.

Majority of the men and women, who were moved to this camp, have already started working and the government is facilitating their movement by arranging special buses in the morning and evening.

The camp has a medical assistance desk and a doctor is available for consultation from 9 am to 11.30 am. The meals are cooked inside the camp by volunteers from various NGOs in Palakkad and surrounding areas.

The relief camp, which houses nearly 600 people, would put any hotel to shame for it has all facilities and the inmates are provided with nutritious three-square meals and snacks and hot beverages in the morning and evening. 

“Since normalcy has been restored in the town, people have resumed work. We have arranged special buses to take them to the town and bring them back to the camp in the evening. Some even go to the town to just clean their houses and check their condition,” N K Ramakrishnan, District labour Officer – Enforcement, said.

A person takes rest in a rooms at relief centre— Apna Ghar in Palakkad. DH Photo/ E T B Sivapriyan
A person takes rest in a rooms
at relief centre— Apna Ghar in Palakkad.
DH Photo/ E T B Sivapriyan

Ramakrishnan, who is in-charge of the camp, says there are no restrictions for those living in the camp regarding their movement.

“All the people who are here have either lost their houses or their houses have been badly damaged. We are ensuring enough facilities for them to live here,” he said.

He also said since Palakkad is very close to Coimbatore, there has been over-pouring of help from Tamil Nadu.

“We have relief materials and food in excess. We have been diverting them to various parts of Kerala to ensure that people in most-affected areas get access to food and clean drinking water,” he said.

Relief materials transported through chopper

Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML’s) helipad in Palakkad is busy. Choppers take off almost every hour from here to various parts of Kerala to handover relief materials that have reached this border town in abundance.

The small choppers, which can carry only 200 kg at a time, carries food materials, blankets, sanitary pads for women, diapers for kids and other essential items to other parts of the state, where many areas are still under water.

IAF chopper ready to take off with relief materials
from the BEML helipad in Palakkad on Tuesday.
DH Photo/ E T B Sivapriyan

A top district official told DH that since Palakkad is very close to Tamil Nadu, plenty of relief materials like packaged drinking water, biscuits, blankets, rice, pulses and packaged food have reached the town.

“Since we have enough stock of the essential commodities, we have decided to sort them out at a facility in Palakkad and transport them to other districts where they are needed most. We have begun the process of sending them through trucks as well,” the official said.

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