Gaja cyclone in Kameshwaram – November 16
Extreme weather, frequently and unpredictably changing weather, with greater dips and peaks are happening with increasing frequency. Still some people think climate change is a hoax. I hope you are not among them.
Cyclone Gaja has not taken any lives in Kameshwaram. Disaster management was observed well and all were sheltered in schools. But devastation to property has been immense. Trees have been made bald, or felled or split into two. Roofs and doors have flown off. Telephone lines have been cut into two.
Mr. Paranjothi told me on the phone: “Madam, I was not prepared for what I saw. Trees are on the road. No vehicle can go on roads. Even men are crying. The tsunami took many lives, but the cyclone has created so much more damage to trees, houses and property. It has made so many families destitute.” Both of us were so depressed.
“How is the office? And how is the guest house?” I asked. We own no property. We simply don’t have that kind of money as I have to raise most of the money through own efforts. We rent out rooms.
“Madam, as you know the day before I had taken care to put our laptop and printer into the cup-board in our office. Madam, the roof and the side doors have flown away and fallen in the garden. Anand Sir, downstairs is in tears, all the trees are gone. It’s not just the money. He is also emotionally attached to the trees. Our computer and printer are also gone madam. The cupboard has crashed to the ground and inside it seems broken. So office gone madam. But guest house is Ok. Some repairs are needed on roof.”
As I write this, people are also fleeing from raging fires in California, they are fighting against being buried in sand in Russia and preparing for more floods and drying lakes in France and struggling to rebuild their lives in Kerala. It’s not a problem of only Kameshwaram. It’s a global problem.
Our office is gone. But our staff is OK. Now to see how to face tomorrow. We have a lot to rebuild everywhere. But I just feel we can’t go on the way we have done so far. In Kameshwaram. Or anywhere else. We need to work towards designing solutions that give rise to capacity building, engagement and climate resilience. And most of all, we need to consume less, pollute less, and respect Mother Nature more.
Stay tuned. We will work on a project towards attaining this and present it here, but first I have to cry some more – not for FIN office, not even just for Kameshwaram – but for the climate change happening everywhere and for governments, firms and people not realising the dangers of not taking enough actions today.
November 21, 2018
FIN Response to Gaja cyclone and in case you are wondering what we are doing for Kerala Flood victims
There has been enormous property damage in Kameshwaram, but no lives lost. There are a lot of mosquitoes and there will be no electricity for another week. Mr. Paranjothi has been going on his bike from Nagapattinam every day under the rain to ascertain the damage as well as the needs of the people and we have been discussing. We are preparing a relief package of candles, mosquito repellent coil and matches for about one week for about 300 needy families. The most needy are lodged in community halls and schools that are being used as shelters. There the conditions are better. The problem is really for those families living in huts. All these relief materials are in so much demand that Mr. Paranjothi is finding it difficult to obtain them and even this is costing a lot.
Now coming to medium term – please note that during the Kerala floods I was in communication with a team of professionals who were actively involved in rescue efforts. We will be twinning Kameshwaram with the fishermen village of Pulluvila. The fishermen of Pulluvila were absolutely heroic and crucial in rescuing stranded and needy people.
So the project will be on building climate resilience in both villages and basic WASH capabilities (Water, Sanitation, Waste Management and Hygiene infrastructure) in Pulluvila and repairing all the existing infrastructure in Kameshwaram.
More in coming weeks.