Malabar region, which bears the brunt of the devastation, is literally thunderstruck. Train services have been suspended, and road journey is not at all safe, with motoring being made impossible by broken bridges. Blackout caused by widely disrupted power supply is making the situation more complicated. In addition to Malabar, in Kottayam, Ernakulam and Idukki districts also, non-stop showers have hit peole's lives. Met experts indicate heavy downpour to continue in the next few days too. If so, this flood is likely to inflict a big blow, like last year's, at a social level in Kerala.
During last year's flood, there was a loss of 493 lives. There is still no clue about over a hundred missing people. We are yet to tide over its economic and social losses. And now, it is far from easy to survive another spell of horrible natural disaster, which definitely is beyond the ruling government by itself. Just as we astounded the world by surviving and overcoming a huge flood last year, we have to close in together and tide over this crisis. It is a reassuring sight that together with woeful tales of tragedy, there is a reassuring picture of co-existence and mutual succour displayed by the youth, political parties, voluntary bodies and the entire government machinery which offer the much-needed relief for the disaster-stricken.
A huge support of social media as well as the diaspora is essential in this juncture. The lessons we have derived in disaster relief should benefit us during this flood. The downpour should be accompanied by an outpouring of endless compassion, beyond mere anxiety. It is when the vountary organizations, the disaster-stricken and the government all take the hand of help as gifts of brotherhood that the wings of survival can be flapped.
Equally important is to give up the overconfidence and defiance amounting to saying that one can survive the tragedy and handle relief work by oneself. We are prompted to state this with last year's experience in mind. When people facing disaster refused to leave their homes pinning hopes on their own rescue plans, that had caused an increase in the number of deaths. Lost property can be regained, but not life once it is lost. And no lost wealth is more painful than the departure of dear ones. Therefore, those in damage-affected areas need to move in close co-operation with rescue missions, volunteers and government machinery.
Extensive disaster relief will have to be planned this time too. This flood again reminds that we need to derive lasting lessons about preventing monsoon disaster. We saw last year's flood as a rarity in history. But, there is a crystallising awareness that the harm caused by climate change in Kerala will lead to such catastrophes. The repeat of flood demands a deep rethinking of our practices ranging from land use to building construction. Those are to be done later with equanimity and in calm settings. The situation now calls for immediate rescue and relief efforts. And then, once we outlive the diaster, in order to avoid sudden shocks, we should find time for long and detailed cogitations to change Kerala in tune with changing climate.