The Amrita Hospital sent out medical relief teams of doctors and paramedics who provided round-the-clock medical care, conducting dozens of medical camps in hard-to-reach areas and treating thousands of patients. In some places, the teams had to deliver service and medical assistance by boat as the areas were so deeply flooded. And in the remote, hilly areas of Wayanad District, the teams had to hike in on foot to reach those in need. Tele-medicine and an ambulance van accompanied them were very helpful.
The Catholic Church has joined relief efforts as unprecedented floods and landslides continue to wreak havoc in India's Kerala state, killing 75 people within a week.
All 41 Catholic dioceses in the southern state have opened schools and other institutions to accommodate flood victims and are cooperating to send food, clothes and other relief materials to affected areas.
Thousands have fled their homes to reach safer places after incessant rain since Aug. 13 filled up reservoirs of Kerala's 33 dams to the brim, forcing authorities to open sluices. This left all 44 rivers to overflow and inundate homes, farms and roads and railways as floodwater gushed to the Arabian Sea on the state's western border.
"It is an extremely worrying situation," Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told media on Aug. 15, noting that heavy rain was forecast for another two days.
A red alert has been sounded across the state as the heaviest rain and floods since 1924 continue, leaving about 75,000 people in relief camps and causing damage worth US$1.2 million to crops and properties.
What has drawn the world’s attention to this tragedy is the sheer scale of it. Estimates put the death toll between August 8 and 20 at 223. Overall, more than 400 people are presumed dead since the monsoon began in late May. The last time devastation on this scale was seen in Kerala, was back in 1924 when 1000 people were killed by heavy rain and floods.
In addition, over 10.28 lakh people were staying at 3700 relief camps across the state, primarily in Idukki, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kochi and Pathanamthitta. Even those who managed to stay in their own homes, or who tried to leave for other places, didn’t have it easy. Electricity and water supply was cut off in large parts of the state due to water-logging. Cochin International Airport, one of the State’s three international airports, suspended operations till August 26. Water-logged tracks and damaged roads badly affected (or completely stopped) rail and road traffic in the above districts as well.
Following the havoc, the Central government has categorised the situation in Kerala as an L3-level disaster—the highest disaster categorization under the National Disaster Management Guidelines.