Rebuilding Kerala

Carmelaram Priory on the third day of the great floods 2018
BOAT ON ROAD: Women travelling in a boat to a safe camp 

In August 2018, severe flooding affected Kerala due to unusually high rainfall during the monsoon season. It was the worst flooding in Kerala in nearly a century. Over 498 people died, 15 are missing within a fortnight, while at least a million people were evacuated from many flood affected areas. According to the Kerala government, one-sixth of the total population of Kerala had been directly affected by the floods and related incidents. The Indian government had declared it a Level 3 Calamity, or “calamity of a severe nature”. It is the worst flood in Kerala after the Great Flood of 99 that happened in 1924. It is roughly estimated that the property damage in the State costs nearly 3.21 bn. Euros.

For us Carmelites, the flooding created a challenging mission of rescuing and rehabilitating thousands of people. North Paravur is one of the most affected areas in Kerala. Our Carmelite Priory here that includes 32 members including 20 teenage students in formation, was isolated in flood for about one week and we opened all our buildings – Carmelite Priory, Bonitas Boys Home and Chris Cappell College- for the flood victims. Nearly 1100 people took shelter in our buildings including the cloister. Waters engulfed the whole area including the ground floor and all were stuck in the upper stories. Fishing boats were bringing the necessary food materials. Friars and few students directly took part in some rescue operations. They acted along with the general public and governmental bodies. Our efforts were much appreciated by the local people and government. We should add that not only our Monastery but also many Churches, mosques and temple buildings, and numerous private homes too became shelter homes for many days.

THIS IS NOT A PICNIC PHOTO: Fr. Praveen Lawrence O.Carm and Bro. Anson Cancis O.Carm at the back of a truck during a rescue operation at North Paravur

Our property damage is not yet estimated. We had lost our furniture, books and electronic equipment. Friars could manage to save only some movable property from the sudden flood torrents. We also had to abandon our vehicles on roads during some rescue operations. Sadly, insurance companies are refusing to pay for the repair of vehicles because they were traveling in water! More than the loss of our own property, we are also concerned of our neighbours and friends. We have offered them our wholehearted service in every possible way.

NEWSPAPER BOY: Fr. Jose Thomas O.Carm, Prior of Carmelaram Priory North Paravur, carrying newspapers to the upper stories of the Priory to give to the people to use as their temporary bed sheets

Now, the flood waters have recessed and people are going back to their own homes. But rehabilitation is not at all an easy task. Cleaning of houses and streets are still going on. Most of the people lost all their belongings except that was at their hands when they fled. Most of the families of our own friars and students are also among those who are directly affected by the heavy floods. Rebuilding of lives is a huge task but we are hopeful and stronger now.

An aerial view of flood affected Kerala

In this decisive time in the history of Kerala and of Delegation, we thank everyone who have helped us and stood with us to make us feel that we are part of the global fraternity of Carmelites.