A team of 450 people from the district corporation helped clean up more than 400 houses in Pathanamthitta.

Thiruvananthapuram civic staff travel to flood-hit areas help clean 400 houses
news Kerala Floods Saturday, August 25, 2018 - 19:14

It’s a strange mix of guilt and empathy. People in Thiruvananthapuram were relatively safe. They had to keep listening to horror stories from the rest of the state, hit by the floods. Day in and day out, while all they could do was send help and hope for the best.

Now that the floods have receded, there was the unthinkably huge task of cleaning the houses, which were left with nothing but piles of mud from the rains. Thiruvananthapuram did not need to just sit and watch anymore, it could get out and help.

Four days ago, men and women working at the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, locked their homes, stepped out and took off to Pathanamthitta. There were 450 of them – staff and volunteers – ready to clean houses in Ranni and Aranmula, where the floods had caused much havoc. They had equipment, tools, even sewage suction trucks with them.

“Two days in Ranni and one day in Aranmula – we must have cleaned 400 something houses,” says a source. “Pumpsets, generators, we took everything. There was no electricity connection in many houses and no water. So, we used generators and electric motors. We were all prepared too, had an orientation class for all the volunteers before we began.”

They took vaccinations as well, for eli pani (rat-bite fever). There was also the risk of snakes.

About 230 of them were sanitation workers so they knew the basics. Teams of 10 or 12 went into each house – even ones where the owners had no hope of recovering – and finished their job. “The people living there were so happy they began shouting slogans for the Mayor – Mayor VK Prasanth.”

But they can’t move in yet. All their utensils were gone, there was no gas connection, no vessels, no raw materials, not even money. “It will take time,” the source adds.

The team returned on Friday evening. And just when they got back, another set of teams left to clean more homes. The local body administration in Thiruvananthapuram has decided to send people from 89 local bodies for cleanliness work in and around Chengannur. “This includes 73 Grama Panchayats, 11 Block Panchayats, four municipalities, and the district panchayat,” says district panchayat president VK Madhu.

The teams will also include electricians, plumbers, mechanics etc. “Two teams including the Thiruvananthapuram Deputy Director of Panchayat and the District Planning Officer have gone today (Saturday). More will join from tomorrow (Sunday), and we will all be there till August 30,” Madhu adds.

About 4000 volunteers including the technicians are going as part of the initiative.

This article has been produced in partnership with Oxfam India. In the last 10 years, Oxfam India has delivered over 36 impactful humanitarian responses in India. Oxfam India is providing critical relief to the affected families and communities in Kerala: clean drinking water, sanitation, and shelter kits. Click here to help #RebuildKerala.