Monsoon Floods Kill Hundreds in Kerala, India

Kavya Weaver '20, News Editor

City streets that were once bustling with life and color now quietly stand abandoned, flooded with swirling, dirty water that has devastated the lives of millions. Remnants of the homes the flooding has destroyed float on the water under rain-lashed palm trees—a reminder of how much Keralan families lost so quickly.  Over the past few months, the southern Indian state of Kerala has suffered its worst monsoon flooding in over a century. Over a million people have been displaced, and hundreds of people have died since July 2018. With their homes destroyed, hundreds of thousands of displaced people are now living in emergency relief shelters set up across the state. Thousands of others are stranded, waiting for relief from the Indian government, who have been desperately trying to rescue as many victims as possible. The state government has been trying to counteract the damage by pouring in relief materials and medication to victims to resist possible outbreaks of disease. Additionally, collection centers with food, clothes, and bottled water have been set up all over the state. However, the populations of many rural villages and towns are still trapped in their homes, outside the reach of the government’s relief programs.  

With over 360 miles of coastline, Kerala’s geography is especially conducive to flooding. The state has 44 rivers flowing through it and is riddled with inlets that channel in from the Arabian Sea. The abundance of waterways has led to the creation of a system of dams that are designed to minimize the frequency and damage caused by flooding. However, these dams have only contributed to the devastation within the past few months as dam operators have been forced to release water because of dangerous water pressure. With no alternative but to alleviate the pressure, over 80 dams were opened at the height of the flooding, adding to the naturally occurring destruction. Scientists speculate that another issue that has contributed to this disaster is human-induced climate change.

As the death toll rises in Kerala, the world is forced to face the devastating reality of global warming. The exacerbating extreme weather not only in Kerala, but around the world, points to climate change, and the issue can no longer be ignored.