Chronicling the flood … Wall art from Puthenvelikkara
The Puthenvelikkara panchayath in Ernakulam district, situated on the confluence of the Periyar and Chalakudy rivers, was one of the worst-hit regions in the 2018 Kerala floods. The extreme rainfall spells, release of dam waters without warning and the ill-maintained downstream regulators on both the rivers had wreaked unparalleled havoc on this estuarine village. Marooned by the rising waters and heavy currents, they were cut-off completely presenting an unprecedented challenge. A spontaneous front of local people including the young had come together then, to face the fury of the disaster head-on. They braved the waters to rescue stranded people, arranged camps, relocated flooded camps, organised food and other relief materials, kept constant vigil on the river, liaisoned with government rescue forces and in general kept the sinking morale of the people above swirling waters of despair. The determination and innovative abilities of the local volunteer force is proof enough that community involvement is of paramount importance in disaster management activities. They are the first responders to a crisis and those who stand too much to lose. After the floods receded, the people here are seriously taking up Disaster Management activities at various fronts. EQUINOCT provides technical support in these multiple programmes aimed towards making Puthenvelikkara a model climate change disaster resilient panchayath.