INDIA Swept away by floods

 Emergency Response
 12th Oct 2009

By Nalini N Paul, CARE India

Ramullama and her neighbor Mangamma have not come to terms with the events of the past few days. They continue to sit out side of their homes that have been completely devastated by the floods. Ramullama and Mangamma are fisherwomen and live in the remote Amaragiri village in the Kolapur mandal in Andhra Pradesh. They woke up as usual on the second of October and went about their daily chores, never imagining how drastically their lives would change in a few hours.

Their village is situated by the banks of the river Krishna on one side and the foothills of the Nalla Malla forests on the other side. Incessant rains since the last week of September had caused the river to swell and break its banks, flooding the entire village and wrecking lives, homes and livelihoods. These floods have caused more than 500,000 people to be displaced in Kolapur alone, out of which most are likely to be left homeless unless their houses are repaired.

Ramullama recalls the fateful day. “There was no power supply that day and it was raining heavily. The river was beginning to swell and we were scared. We had not gone out to fish and were at home. At around 10:00pm in the night, the waters suddenly entered our houses with a lot of force. We had only enough time to grab our children and run to the hills for safety.”

“We stayed up in the hills for two days with no protection from the rains or any food,” says Mangamma. “On the third day we came down to find everything devastated. Our animals were swept away and so were our fishing boats. This is what remains of my house,” she said, pointing to the rubble with tears in her eyes.

Hundreds of families like those of Ramullama and Mangamma have not only lost their homes but also their boats and nets, leaving them in need of assistance and poorer than before.

In the initial phase of the emergency response, CARE is distributing hygiene kits, soap, floor mat and bed sheets, and water purification supplies to 5,000 families (30,000 people) in villages in the worst-affected districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Due to the remoteness here in Amaragiri village it is taking longer for help to arrive. There are more than 50 such families who have lost everything to the floods this year. Each of them has an equally harrowing tale to tell.

The devastation has been huge and the loss of life and livelihood keeps on increasing every day. It will be a long time before the thousands of people in the relief camps can begin their journey homewards. Until then CARE’s emergency team will work with local communities to support the basic needs of the people.

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