M V Ramakrishnan, along with two other colleagues from the Keraleeya Kendra Sangathana in Matunga, had landed at Alleppey in Kerala on August 14 with 1,000 relief kits for the flood-affected families in Kuttanad village. While they were supposed to be back in Mumbai the next day, two of them are stuck in the southern state owing to the severe floods.
“Last month, a heavy flood had inundated the Kuttanad village in Alleppey and our organisation wanted to provide relief to the residents. So, we brought 1,000 relief kits containing clothes and medicines, including lungis, underwears, sanitary napkins and odomos among other things,” Ramakrishnan told The Indian Express over the phone from Thiruvananthapuram.
By August 15, the team had distributed the kits and was headed back to Mumbai when the severe floods left them stranded in Kerala. Their flight tickets from Kochi got canceled after the runway was submerged. “Over the next two days, we have somehow managed to get to Thiruvananthapuram by road. But now, there are no flights available. And those available are too expensive. Trains, too, are not running,” said Ramakrishnan, a resident of Kharghar in Navi Mumbai. He, along with his colleague Sashi Kumar Nair, a resident of Thane, are now waiting for the weather to improve.
His colleague P P Ashokan had left from Alleppey a day ahead of him and managed to catch a flight back to Mumbai from Thiruvananthapuram. He is now busy arranging for more relief to be sent to flood-affected families. Johnson Ambatt and his wife, residents of Nerul, had gone for a four-day holiday to Edapally in Kochi. They were supposed to take a flight back on Thursday. But with trains, flights as well as roads currently inaccessible, the couple is unable to return.
“We were here for a holiday but the Kochi airport is shut and the Calicut airport is inaccessible. Limited train services have resumed via Alleppey to Thiruvananthapuram, so we will try to take a train to the capital on Saturday and then a flight to Mumbai,” said Johnson. Several associations in Mumbai are collecting and channelising funds as well as relief items to be shipped to Kerala.
“We are collecting funds and basic items such as clothes and medicines. We have tied up with volunteers who will transport the items to Thiruvananthapuram by train Sunday,” said Mohit Jeswani, a BMM student from Powai, a volunteer. Meanwhile, many of the city-based Kerala Samajams (local associations of Kerala natives) have called off their Onam celebrations next week.