Cyclone Ockhi
Though the government has promised help, the wait for a new home will be a long one for these families.

It was around two in the afternoon but they hadn’t had lunch yet. Nearly 300 people from 45 families housed at the Beemapally Government Upper Primary school were waiting for the food that is usually distributed by the Kerala state government to arrive.

Abdul Rehman, a fisherman was also in queue. He is one of the residents in the Beemapally area in Thiruvanthapuram whose house was destroyed during cyclone Ockhi.

“With each passing year, the sea is getting rougher. We are waiting for the government to give us new homes. We don’t know when we can leave this shelter,” he said.

Men, women and children were seen sitting on the school porch or inside class rooms in groups, sharing the agony of losing whatever they possessed in their life.

Some had given up all hope while others were optimistic about putting their lives back together from scratch.

Seventy five families in this fishing village lost their houses in the heavy rain and strong wind that lashed these areas as Cyclone Ockhi struck. 

"This is the first time that we have been forced to live in a relief camp. Last week, this time, we were happily sitting in our own homes. Now we are suffering, my son is suffering more,” says Zeenath.

Zeenath's 12-year-old son has bone cancer, and with the ongoing treatment he finds it tough to walk. Zeenath and her three children are now in the camp.

"Some people in the area who have lost houses have gone to the houses of their relatives. But many of us don’t have even that luxury. How many anyone accommodate my family?  I have four children," Jannath Beevi, a woman in her 50s said. 

60-year-old Beema, a widow, said the winds were so strong that their concrete houses had been destroyed. "There have been times in the past when heavy rains have made walls come crashing down. But this is the first time that entire houses have been destroyed," she said.

Most of them had the same stories to tell. The fury of the sea had caught them unawares and the future seemed uncertain. Though the government has promised help, the wait for a new home will be a long one for these families.

Most families were concerned about living with their children in a relief centre for too long.

Among them was a young woman who had delivered a baby just a few days ago. "She has nowhere to go. What else she will do, she also came with us," Jannath Beevi said.

There are two wards in Beempally, Beemapally East Ward and Beemapally Ward. "In the East Ward, 35 houses have been destroyed and 40 houses in the Beemapally ward," said Sajeena Beemapally ward councilor.

The men at the camp were huddled in discussions on what jobs they could find, fishing is their only skill. “We haven't witnessed something like this ever before. We can’t go back to the sea immediately, we need to figure out how to support our families," said Abdul Rahman.

Even as there was talk of jobs and survival, the immediate concern was about the next meal.

"Normally representatives of the government or NGOs would distribute food. The mosque had also assisted. Today morning also we got food. But nobody has come in with food in the noon so far," he said.