Firsthand Reflections of Flooding in Kerala, India

Dr. Daniel, director of GFA-supported medical ministry in Asia, reflects on the flood situation in Kerala and his trips to rescue people who were stranded.

“It is easy for me to sit back at home and watch the television and see the different things that are happening. But on the first day when we decided we needed to go help whoever we can, [we got] the idea of using a tractor. … As I moved just away from the main city … it hit me so bad. You could see shops submerged. … Roadside shops, vendor shops completely submerged. Then as we went inside, we saw … 100 people minimum crowding into one house, which would probably hold 10 people. And the only reason [for that was] because all the houses next to them were just single-story houses.

Dr. Daniel (pictured on left) shares a lighter moment with the team on one of the first days of the rescue work.
Dr. Daniel (pictured on left) shares a lighter moment with the team on one of the first days of the rescue work.

“In fact, what made this more real for me was the fact that in one of the rescue boats as we went, we also got stuck there! We were not able to come back. So it was too dark for us to come back, and we couldn’t see anything. Everything was covered in water; we didn’t know [where] the river was, which way the road was. Everything was covered.

“So that night we spent on a rooftop under this sheet kind of thing on the rooftop. And one of the first things I realized was that I was completely drenched, even our clothes. … You didn’t know where the food would come from. You actually experienced that kind of feeling that, you know, If the rain doesn’t stop, how am I going to get out of this place? And it was actually really, really pouring out rain that night. If somebody doesn’t come to give me bread, give me water, give me something, how am I going to be here? I have no electricity. I can’t get in touch with my family. How scared would they be?

“So I think it hit home for me quite badly. Which meant that we needed to just keep going on and on, trying to help people as far as we could.

“On the first day when we went on the tractor to rescue people, we were stopped on the way, and [someone] said, ‘Could you please take these six men in your tractor and drop them across to a safe place?’ So we said, ‘Of course, we can.’

“These six men were literally shivering, I mean they were shaking. We had to almost pull them aboard, but they looked like strong men, so we asked, ‘Where are you coming from? What happened?’

“What happened was they actually had gone to [a place] about half an hour away from here, which is by the river bank. They were working there in a saw mill, in a place where they make paper. So they went there to make sure the machines were OK and everything was fine. The water rose so rapidly there was no way even boats could go there. Rescue helicopters were the only way to rescue people. But unfortunately, they missed it.

“They were somewhere under trees or somewhere that the rescue helicopters never saw them. So they decided the only way to save themselves was to swim their way through the water. And they swam. They walked, three to four hours that day from the time of 6:00 or whenever it was. By the time when it was 10 a.m., when we saw them, they had waded through water all this time and literally [were] shivering, shaking because of cold.”

After going through so much trauma, Dr. Daniel shared how GFA-supported workers were there for flood survivors to offer comfort however they could.

“I remember one of … the ladies who worked in the hospital. When she got saved [from the floodwaters], one of our people went and hugged her, and she just broke down crying. … Sometimes, you don’t need to say much.”

It was these simple acts of kindness and the knowledge that help was on the way that carried many families in Kerala through the immediate helplessness.

“Your presence … sometimes is enough. That, I think, is the main thing: just being there. Looking out for them and searching for them has given them hope. And they know who we are and why we do these things.”

For some, memories of the flood haunt them.

“One of the survivors told me that when she hears rain now, the sound of rain, she’s terrified. … It’s going to affect them for a long time.”

It is with a grateful heart that GFA-supported workers are continually bringing aid to those who need it most right now. They know a lot of the work they are able to offer is possible because of the prayers and gifts of men and women around the world.

“I would like to thank all of those who have already prayed for us and supported us. I know that many of you who will hear me will start to pray. And I want to thank those of you who will pray and support us in advance, because I know your heart is there for the Lord and for helping people who are in need. Thank you so much.”


To read more on the GFA-supported relief efforts in Kerala, India, go here.


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Donations to support GFA’s disaster relief work in Kerala can be made at www.gfa.org/flood.