Kerala has suffered devastating floods before but, according to meteorologists, last week the rainfall intensity was 250% higher than average. The local government did not act promptly and it was necessary to drain the water from too full basins, opening the dam gates. The exact extent of the damage is still difficult to calculate, a clear idea can only be had when the waters totally withdraw. According to local premier Pinarayi Vijayan at least 83 thousand kilometers of roads are devastated, while about 20 thousand houses and some 40 thousand hectares of cultivated fields have been destroyed, reports the ANSA news agency.
The Salesians are at the forefront of trying to manage the emergency and help the victims of the disaster. For the people affected by the floods in Ernakulam, in the Kerala Don Bosco Vaduthala, the relief camp was opened at the Don Bosco school and youth center; with 5,970 people registered from 1,419 families. The Salesians, together with the government, the local population and NGOs, provide for the collection and distribution of water, food, clothing, medicines and emergency items. Medical checks have also been organized to prevent epidemics and emergency health needs of those affected.
In a circular addressed to all Salesians, the Provincial of Kerala, Fr Joyce (Mathew) Thonikuzhiyil, said: “We are also informed of the serious damage suffered by the houses and property of the Salesian family. I would like to personally ask the communities of these places to provide support to families, our confreres and others in need of assistance. As an expression of our solidarity, the Province will certainly help families and our confreres affected by the flood. Those in need of immediate support kindly contact your neighboring communities.”
The Salesians are working together with other institutions of the Church and civil society to be able to give assistance and welcome part of the over 600 thousand refugees; at least 4 thousand camps have already been set up, where however everything is scarce and there are fears that epidemics could spread. A field in Aluva has already been transformed into a hospital for chickenpox (varicella) patients.