Hundreds Die as Kerala, India, Faces Worst Floods in a Century
"I opened the door and water gushed in.”
Extreme flooding has incapacitated the state of Kerala in southern India this week, killing more than 324 people and displacing hundreds of thousands of others, according to the New York Times.
The floods are being described by officials as the worst in the state since 1924. The water has submerged homes, broken dams, triggered destructive landslides, and cut off transportation to the region, including through the airport, the Times reports.
“My family and neighbouring families are in trouble with flood in Pandanad nakkada area in Alappuzha,” local resident Ajo Varghese said in a Facebook post, according to the Guardian. “No water and food. Not able to communicate from afternoon. Mobile phones are not reachable and switch off. Please help … No rescue is available.”
Monsoons strike Kerala every year, but rains have been 37% more intense than usual in some areas this season. Nearly all of Kerala’s districts have been affected by the subsequent floodwaters, according to the Pinarayi Vijayan, state’s chief minister, and emergency evacuation orders have been issued for those remaining.
The government has deployed armed service members to assist in rescue efforts and helicopters are dropping rafts, boats, and life jackets to help people stay afloat in the rising water.
More than 1,500 relief camps, meanwhile, have been set up to accommodate the displaced, Vijayan.
Kerala is facing its worst flood in 100 years. 80 dams opened, 324 lives lost and 223139 people are in about 1500+ relief camps. Your help can rebuild the lives of the affected. Donate to https://t.co/FjYFEdOsyl#StandWithKerala.— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) August 17, 2018
Despite these efforts, the damage is far from over, and President Narendra Modi is expected to visit the natural disaster in the days ahead.
For people trapped in their homes, the situation continues to be dire.
"I opened the door and water gushed in," Krishna Jayan, 58, told the BBC. "When we stepped into the street, we were neck-deep in water."
Kerala is a primary tourist destination in India and is one of the country’s wealthiest states because it hauls in the highest share of remittances.
The state is also an agricultural hub, and the flooding has reportedly indudated crops ranging from coffee to spices, the BBC reports.
Some scientists are blaming deforestation for the destructive force of the floods because trees normally act as a defense system by stabilizing soil, the BBC notes.
While it’s too soon to point the finger at climate change, the phenomenon is expected to intensify flooding events around the world and the freakish nature of the rainfall over Kerala could be a sign of things to come.