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Posted at: Aug 26, 2018, 1:35 AM; last updated: Aug 26, 2018, 1:35 AM (IST)

As the state submerged, humanity rose

As the state submerged, humanity rose
Volunteers of philanthropist organisation Khalsa Aid International distribute food and relief material to the victims

When a swelling Periyar began to invade a refugee camp, Manju Manoj realised it was time to move. A school in Kalady, a town on the banks of Kerala’s longest river would be her fourth shelter in the past 24 hours. It had been crammed with 400 refugees in an overnight operation, aided by residents. A better place, she and her child were treated to food and water here. Manju had come here on a vacation from the Gulf, where she teaches music in a school. Inside the camp, she sang paeans extolling the volunteers. The recent floods, Kerala’s fiercest since the Great Flood of 1924 when it poured continually for three weeks, brought out humanity. Consumerism, like in other states, may have cast its shadow on Malayalis, but, from the disaster emerged some heart-warming stories. Stories of compassion and survival that reaffirm that all goodness is not lost. Even after the waters receded, people continued helping each other. 

For instance, in Alappuzha district’s Kuttanad region that has swathes of agricultural land below the sea level, KJ Jayadeep, whose wedding was scheduled, chose to convert the venue into a relief camp. The groom instinctively took the decision as he saw floodwaters raging in Neelamperoor. The bride’s family, too, agreed to postpone the function and became a part of the rescue operations.

Barely 10 km away, in Changanassery off Kottayam, Arun C Das, too, deferred his wedding. Arun, a 30-year-old allopathic doctor, began running a healthcare camp with assistance of three fellow professionals. In another case, the opposite happened — all for the good. Inmates of three relief camps in the Malappuram district got together to bless a young couple tying the nuptial. The temple’s long dining hall doubled as the shelter house as well. The trustee of the temple even served meals to the ‘guests’.

Muslim-dominated Malappuram also saw some of its mosques convert into relief camps. Local Hindus took shelter here as well. In Kozhikode, a madrasa served the similar purpose. Good deeds in bad times did not end here. Two siblings, Swaha V S and her younger brother Brahma, in a Payyannur school, donated one acre to the CM’s relief fund. They had got the Rs 50-lakh property willed from their farmer-father.

In Periyar’s vicinity, Chengamanad village, northwest of Aluva in Ernakulam district, had 1,200 refugees putting up in a local camp. As it poured, a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy reported labour pain. Transporter Shijumon P S drove one of his trucks through the surging waters to hospital, where the child was delivered.

In downstate Travancore’s Pathanamthitta, Adoor resident KS George facilitated the burial of the deceased from all religions and castes in the land voluntarily offered by his Delhi-based brother Kuruvila Samuel, who is a priest.

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