Heavy rain lashes in Kerala, red alerts in several districts; A look back on the previous rain devastations

Heavy rain lashed several parts of Kerala on October 16 especially in the south and central parts of the state causing houses to collapse, leaving people struck at places, the threat of landslides, and other widespread damage to the state. According to reports, several families were evacuated to safer places.

According to reports from Indian Meteorological Department, the ‘Red Alert’ was announced for Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Idukki, Palakkad, and Thrissur districts. An orange alert, warning of very heavy rainfall was issued for Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alappuzha, Malappuram, Kozhikode, and Wayanad districts. As per the IMD report, widespread heavy rains in the state are due to the Low-Pressure area formed over the Arabian Sea. Meanwhile, strong winds of up to 40 kmph are expecting in the coming hours in the state, said IMD.

2018 Kerala Flood

It was in 2018, that the state witnessed the worst ever rain devastations which took several homes and establishments, killing over 450 people and displacing thousands.  All districts were placed on red alert and the government of India declared the floods a “calamity of severe nature”. Major airports were temporarily closed, the tourism industry came to a standstill. There were reports that the lack of proper action at the time of heavy rain resulted in the flood in the state in 2018. 

The state had received heavy rains as soon as the monsoon started and the water level in the Idukki dam had touched 2,392 feet by July 30, forcing the government to consider opening flood gates. On August 9, the government gave the order to open the shutter when it saw the water-level to cross 2,400 feet.

Thirty-five out of the fifty-four dams within the state were opened, for the first time in history. All five overflow gates of the Idukki Dam were opened at the same time, and for the first time in 26 years, 5 gates of the Malampuzha dam of Palakkad were opened. Heavy rains in Wayanad and Idukki have caused severe landslides and have left the hilly districts isolated. The situation was regularly monitored by the National Crisis Management Committee. It also coordinated the rescue and relief operations as the dam got opened that disrupted many lives living nearby.

The unusual rainfall and opening of shutters of the reservoir resulted in the overflow of the water into the land area of Kerala. An independent examiner appointed by the Kerala high court also said that bad dam management by the state government was the reason for the flood in Kerala. Exactly one year after a similar situation occurred in the state but it was not severe as in 2018. 

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Many families were transported to safe locations by police, army men, natives, and other people at the time. Also, the police and Forest personnel were struggling to remove debris and restore traffic. Funds from the Center and other states and donations in the form of cash and relief items from the public in India and other countries helped bring the state back to normal.