Suntikoppa, which is largely unaffected by the rains, is seeing people come in for help from kilometres away.

Kodagus Suntikoppa opens hearts doors to people from rain-battered areas
news Rains Saturday, August 18, 2018 - 16:37
"We left on Thursday morning and reached the school in Kandanakolli. We thought we were safe but the landslides began again and we were on the move again. We trekked through coffee plantations, used ladders to cross high waters and made it to Suntikoppa in the evening," 47-year-old Yamuna recounts her escape from the landslides in Kodagu in great detail, until she pauses to remember the people left behind.
"There are still people in our village and we don't know what happened to them," she adds.

A resident of Haleri in Kodagu district, Yamuna and her family packed their bags on Thursday after the heavy rains in the district caused landslides in and around their village.

The family and some other people from her village set out for the Kandanakolli School, on Thursday morning, on foot, after the roads leading out of her village was blocked by fallen trees. A group of 30, they only packed what they deemed their essential belongings and left their village not knowing whether they will see their homes again.

"We reached the Kandanakolli School at around 11 am, but were soon told that this place was also not safe. We heard the sounds of the land slipping all around us. We could see electric poles, trees and houses were going down and there was water was everywhere,” adds Pushpalatha, another member of the group at the school.

Picking up their bags once again, the group set out trekking through coffee plantations for around four hours before they met volunteers who helped them reach Suntikoppa, a town over 10 kilometres away from Haleri.

Suntikoppa has been largely unaffected by the rains in Kodagu and the group of people who arrived here are now based in one of the three relief camps set up by the people of the town. 100 mm of rain was recorded in town on Thursday and 127mm recorded on Friday, but has reduced considerably to 42mm on Saturday as of 8:30 am.

Camps have been set up in the Ram mandir, St Mary’s Church and the Khatija Umma madrasa in the town, where more than 600 people have arrived, most of whom are from Haleri, Kandanakolli and Paplikad.

Hundreds of people in the relief camps in Suntikoppa share stories similar to that of Yamuna’s.

"We were together with elderly persons and babies, and had to come through muddy, forested areas. It was when we reached near Suntikoppa, we were brought to the town in jeeps,” says Pushpalatha.

The influx of people has been welcomed by residents of the town, who have come together to give shelter, medical care and food to those affected.

At the time of writing, people were still arriving in Suntikoppa.

"People from Suntikoppa have gone to help people from Haleri, Paplikaadu and Kandanakolli to get here safely. Relief camps have been set up in three places in the town and many have donated items here. They are being given meals three times a day, but we are asking the government to help take care of them,” Rosemary Rodrigues, the President of the Suntikoppa Gram Panchayat says.

People have walked from as far as Haleri village in Kodagu district, which is 10 kilometres from Suntikoppa, relying on the kindness of strangers alone.

“The elderly have stayed back because there’s no other way than walking. They tell us they cannot come,” says Harini Asha, a worker from Hananakoll near Haleri.

Rains and flooding have left a number of roads blocked and has resulted in groups of people from these regions fleeing their homes and making it arduous through coffee plantations to reach the relief camps, kilometres away.

People have found shelter in the Ram Mandir in the town as well as the St Mary’s Church and the Khatija Umma Madarasa. "The food is being prepared in one place and volunteers in all three places are working together,” says Father Edward William Saldanha, a priest at the St Mary Church.

A community kitchen has been set up at the Khatija Umma Madarasa, from where the food is distributed to all the different relief camps.

"People of Suntikoppa have come together to take care of the people who have arrived. We are also working around the clock to rescue more people. Groups of volunteers have left for Haleri to rescue more people. There are more people who are still in their homes, some of whom were unwilling to leave on Friday,” says Rasool, a resident of Suntikoppa.

 .CM Hameed Moulavi tells TNM, “We have not received any relief from the government. It is the people who are putting together their resources and helping others.”

Religious differences are being shed, one resident tells us. “In the past one week, people have forgotten who is a Hindu or Muslim, and have united to rescue and shelter people,” says Naseer from Suntikoppa.

The Tibetan Cooperative Society too has donated a number of mats, blankets and water bottles and, Tibetan monks were seen at the camps, contributing what they could.


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