100-year-old says Kerala floods worse than 1924 deluge

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Thiruvalla (Kerala) : A bishop now 100-years-old says the floods which have devastated Kerala are far worse than the one which choked the state way back in 1924.

The 1924 floods were not as horrific as the present one, says Philipose Mar Chrysostom, the senior most metropolitan of the Thiruvalla-headquartered Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church.

Ever since monsoon rains began lashing Kerala on May 29 this year, a total of 417 people have died and more than a million were forced to take shelter in relief centres following unprecedented destruction.

The 2018 floods have been described as the worst to hit Kerala after 1924.

The bishop was born in 1918 and his house was on the bank of the Pampa river in Thiruvalla.

When the 1924 floods came, he recalls seeing the river in spate, washing away houses and domestic animals.

Thiruvalla, the district headquarters of the now Pathanamthitta district, is located about 120 km form Thiruvananthapuram.

"In comparison, the current floods are much more devastating... I have painful memories of witnessing houses with helpless inhabitants and cattle being washed away in the Pampa almost a century ago," said the bishop.

"There were no relief camps and no one to prepare or deliver food to the homeless then. People huddled in groups in school or church buildings or temple grounds."

One day, his father, a Vicar, and his assistant took a small boat on a rescue mission. The boat capsized and his father fell into the river. He was saved by the assistant.

The bishop added that although more devastating in its magnitude, the present devastation had brought people together by breaking the barriers of creed, race and politics.

"This is a good sign... of the essence of humanity reaching out to one another."

Even though he is officially retired, the bishop remains active and leads an occasional prayer session.