Sathidevi and her daughter, Lijila are back to the St Xavier's Upper Primary School in the Peruvayal Panchayat in Kozhikode district exactly a year later. "This time, I don't think we will go back to our homes. We are planning on permanently staying here. I don't want to keep coming back to this place every other year," 57-year-old Sathidevi says with a sad smile. She and her daughter are among the many families of the Kalleri area of Kozhikode to have their houses submerged in water yet again on the morning of August 9, a year after the deluge in August last year.
A year later, several parts of Kerala are yet to stand on their feet after the floods in 2018 lead caused severe damage to human lives and property. Kozhikode district was one among the many districts of the state that were badly affected last year. And in August this year, the ghosts of 2018 have come back to haunt the people of Kozhikode, Wayanad, Idukki and Malappuram as severe landslides and flooding have been reported from these places due to continuous rains.
With houses being inundated, several relief camps have started sprouting up across the Kozhikode district and one such relief camp was the one at the St Xavier's school, where Sathidevi and her daughter have been rehabilitated.
"As of now, there are around 1,200 persons in this camp from around 300 families. The number is expected to increase as more families who have been rescued from their homes will be brought here," N Aboobacker, Convenor of the relief camp as well as the president of the Peruvayal Mandalam Congress Committee, says quickly as he busily takes down names of the camp members.
Most of the families in the camp were from the housing colonies of the Kalleri area of the Vatakara Taluk and among the 300 families who have been rehabilitated in the camp, several families like Sathidevi's had been in the same camp during the floods in 2018 as well.
"Only recently, we received the loan from the Kerala Government under the Resurgent Kerala Loan scheme (RKLS). With that money, we were supposed to compensate for all the damages that were caused last year. Now, we have suffered even more damages. How are we going to take care of all this?" asks Sathidevi.
RKLS is an interest-free loan scheme by the Government of Kerala for those who lost their utensils and livelihood during the 2018 foods. According to 32-year-old Lijila, the loans were given to families according to the damages that were caused to them. "We got Rs 35,000 as loan but some were given Rs 25,000. But all of us were also given a one-time relief aid of Rs 10,000 on top of the loan," stated Lijila.
"With this money, we had somehow managed to repair our damaged electrical appliances, buy new utensils, make necessary repairs to our house. But the floods this year have yet again ruined everything and now we are totally clueless as to what we are going to do," says Lijila, sounding helpless.
The relief camp at the school was started on the morning of August 9 after water started entering the houses of families in the Kalleri region near the school during the early hours of that day. "My husband had woken up at 5 am this morning. He woke me up after we found that water had entered our living room. Soon we found out that our entire front yard was flooded," says 52-year-old Leena, who along with her family and other families of Kalleri were brought to the camp in boats by rescue officials.
Leena is also concerned about the repayment of the loan to the government. "Only the government can help us out of the situation now. The loan that they had given us has gone for a waste now. Whatever we had spent those money for has yet again been damaged in this flood and we don't have any money to repair those damages," adds Leena.
This is the case with several other families across the district. And in the same camp, there are families who are yet to receive the loan and also the one time relief aid. 44-year-old Mujeeb is one of them. "I haven't even bothered to repair any of the damages that were caused due to the floods last year. I haven't got the loan also. So I had nothing to lose anyway," Mujeeb laughs but stops suddenly to admit that he didn't expect that it would rain heavily this year. "It was a bit Jasti this year," he claims.
Even as Mujeeb spoke, trucks filled with people â€” women and children mostly â€” poured into the relief camp which is run by the Peruvayal Panchayat. According to Aboobacker, the Panchayat had called for an all-party meeting with the political parties and it was decided that food would be arranged for all the members in the camp for as long as they remained in the camp.
The unprecedented rains in the state had lead to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issuing a red alert in several districts of the state on August 9 and 10. Kozhikode is one of those districts.