PIME missionary: 100,000 displaced and 50 dead in Andhra Pradesh floods

November 7, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

A woman sits desolately outside her flooded homeBrother Henry Meregalli, who works at St. Xavier’s Industrial Training Centre in Eluru, described the gravity of the situation to AsiaNews. At least 10,000 homes destroyed; 200 thousand hectares of land damaged; rice harvest lost; 150 villages still unreachable. State relief is slow. The lay missionary: “more than 1000 families need blankets, remember us in prayer”.

A man trying to clear the flood waters from his homeAndhra Pradesh, November 6, 2012: Over 100,000 people displaced and at least 50 dead: this is the provisional toll of the damage caused by Cyclone Nilam, which lashed Andhra Pradesh State of southern India for over a week. Brother Henry Meregalli, a lay PIME missionary (Pontifical Institute for foreign missions) who works at the St. Xavier’s Industrial Training Centre in Eluru, confirms the gravity of the situation to AsiaNews:

A vehicle submerged in the flood waters“The worst-affected areas are the districts of Krishna and West Godavari [where Eluru is located – ed]. In the area, 150 villages are still unreachable. The floods have destroyed about 10,000 houses and ruined at least 200 thousand hectares of land. The rice crop has been lost. In the entire Andhra Pradesh there were 50 deaths, of which 22 in Elr, near Eluru.

Children beseeching the flood waters to resideCurrently it is still difficult to reach flood damaged areas with aid. “Until three days ago – explains the missionary – the roads were inundated with 35 cm of water, some trains only recently resumed services. The roads that connect Eluru to the nearest cities are blocked and even buses can not pass. The local prefect ordered the closure of schools.”

A woman wading through the flood watersThe technical school where Brother Meregalli has been working for 38 years has suffered heavy damage. “The most serious problems- he tells us – was caused by the cyclone that struck Eluru last month”. Between late September and early October, another flood inundated the backyard of the Institute and outbuildings.

A man carrying his child over his head to safety“The water level – he stresses – reached 40 cm, and for one week we had to close the institute and workshops. With the help of my students, 160 in all, we opened a gap in the wall to the South of the school, to release the water and prevent it rising further. Rain fell incessantly until 7 October. Thanks to the goodness and mercy of God, we had 20 days of sunshine, which dried up the water”. This time, to avoid similar damage, the school is equipping itself with 12 truck loads of gravel outside the gates.

A young boy helping an elderly lady to walk through a flooded streetWhile recognizing the difficulties caused by the rain that still continues to fall, Brother Meregalli says authorities have been slow in organizing relief for those affected: “The local emergency services had to evacuate 1,500 families, which were part of a very poor colony near our school. However, State intervention is still very slow, the Red Cross is still not active. Some people are even accusing the meteorologists for failing to stress the extent of the storm ahead of its arrival “. Beyond this, adds the missionary, “the problem is worsened by water pipes that are never cleaned: algae accumulate and obstruct the water flow. This is the case every year”.

The helpless look of a man in the midst of a flooded areaWhile waiting to organize a network of real emergency relief, Br. Meregalli would like to give at least one blanket to each family. “The problem – he explains – is money: a blanket costs at least 30 euros. We are not asking for anything; just remember us in your prayers”.

 The fury of flood waters below a bridge in Andra PradeshAccording to Br. Francesco Sartori, a lay PIME missionary who works together with Br. Meregalli, this is the “worst flooding over the last 20 years. The rivers have all overflowed their banks, the levees were moved to try to stop the rising flood water”.

– asianews

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