The flood in Kerala brought great disaster with it. More than 350 people had been reported dead, illustrating the seriousness of the situation. The situation was being reported over a number of days.
News about the flood in neighbouring Kerala had been going on for quite some time.
On August 17th 2018, a Friday, news about floods in Kodagu began to trickle into the news media. Three people were reported dead in Katakeri on Friday (17th August) and four dead in and around Madapura on Saturday (18th August) in the national news. Villagers whose houses were likely to collapse were warned and advised to leave their houses.
Many residents reported missing had gone to stay at their relatives' places, as soon as they were advised to vacate the unsafe places. A few of them had even managed to reach places in Bengaluru.
However most of the farm workers had chosen to stay at the relief centers.
A team from Somwarpet had identified people with jeeps and other vehicles who could help. Boys from Madikeri and Kushalnagar joined them. They would load people walking distances onto their jeeps and take them to safer places. Elderly, sickly and physically weak people stuck in remote, flooded or denuded places were rescued and carried upon the backs of volunteers.
The General Thimmayya river-rafters team and a rock climbing team from Bengaluru were also involved. Jagat Nanjappa, a well-known motorcar rally driver from Kodagu, drove his jeep around to help move people. Machaiah, called Max or Machu by his friends, from Ammathi was also part of the team.
Bopanna Rakshith and Ashith Achchappa, two brothers from Kushalnagar, along with their friends, were part of the rescue team. Ashith used to regularly lead trekking teams into Kodagu. Their aunt Rita who stays at Madapura had vacated her house and was living at her daughter's place. They narrated these incidents to me.
A team of volunteers from Mysore were also involved in the rescue missions. News channels such as Suvarna News and BTV had sent in their journalists and personally handed over provisions to the people. A few journalists were also involved in the rescue mission.
80 villagers had left their houses and walked to a resort called Valley Dew in Mukkodlu on Saturday (August 18th). Meanwhile, a group of around 40 local people (including the Somwarpet team and the two brothers) had managed to reach the place on Sunday (August 19th).
Some 35 boys and men among the group of 80 had found their way out of the Mukkodlu resort place by climbing the nearby rocks. The remaining people were rescued by the local team. The team also found 25 people sheltered in one house owned by a Kannanda family member. Most of those rescued were labourers and others.
The Indian army, which was involved in the rescue mission, was unfamiliar with the terrain. By the time the Dogra regiment arrived, the affected villagers had been vacated to safer places.
A few people refused to leave their houses. In one house there were five people, disabled and elderly, who were unwilling to leave their houses. They were later rescued by the rafters team. An old lady who was rescued from her house was misunderstood and dropped back at her house. Then rafters returned again and rescued her a second time. Across the river were some more people who could not be rescued that day. On Monday (August 20th) drones were sent to survey the neighbouring place.
As reported by a journalist Jagadish, around 40 people walked from Mukkodlu and Hebbatagiri villages to Ambukote near Devarapura. There they were sheltered by one Vivek and a Mayamudi village group in a building. Thirthesh, Mohan, and Dhananjay from Bangalore helped them during their stay.
Mahesh and Pramila Nachaiah operate a local news agency called Poomale in Kodagu. They regularly share Suddi Seve ('News Service') audio clips on social media groups. From experience, the news is known to be authentic and reliable. On 20th August, they had shared one such audio clip.
There are 41 relief centers, rightly called Parihara Kendra by the news agency, but popularly and wrongly called Ganji Kendra ('gruel center'), in Kodagu. Among these, 18 are in Madikeri taluk, 14 in Somwarpet taluk and 7 in Virajpet taluk. Nearly 4000 were reported to have been rescued so far.
More than a 1000 people have been involved in the rescue operations in Kodagu. These included NCC cadets, State Police personnel, Reserve police force personnel, Air Force personnel, Revenue department officials and Home Guards. The Indian Army was operating in Mukkodlu to carry people to safer places. The National Defence Relief Force was operational in Jodupada and Monnangeri II villages, the National Navy in Devasthur and Kalur village and General Thimmaiah Adventure Team in Thanthipala village.
H D Kumaraswamy, the CM of Karnataka, was in Kodagu on two days. He gave compensation to Ganapathy, the father of Achalpadi Yeshwanth who died in a landslide in Katakeri, and to Meena Kumari, the wife of a person deceased in the floods.
He claimed that 12 people were dead so far. 845 houses had been washed away. 773 houses, 58 bridges, 123 kilometers of road, some 300 government buildings and 3800 electric poles were damaged.
Provisions, including food, clothes, medicine, and essentials, had been collected and transported by nearly 5000 volunteers over four days in the Kodava Samaja in Bengaluru. The supplies were sent in 40 trucks to Makkandur, Ammathi, Kudige, Bettatur, Gonikoppal, Virajpet, Cherambane, Balugodu, Kushalnagar, Ponnampet, Suntikoppa, Madapura, Somwarpet, and Madikeri. Among various godowns, these things were stored in the KSRTC bus depot and the SP office in Madikeri.
Suntikoppa town is a major refuge to the flood victims from various villages. Many victims were sheltered in a Church, a Hindu temple and a Madrassa (Islamic school). Buddhist monks from the Bylekuppe Tibetan settlement came to help the flood victims. This news was reported by The Quint, an Indian news website.
Many government employees will be donating their one day salary towards the relief fund. Many Kodavas and other people of Kodagu have decided not to celebrate Kail Polud, a major local festival occurring on September 3rd, this year. Instead, they would contribute the money to be spent on the festival towards the relief work.