"This year, we have seen the terrible flooding in Kerala in India, savage wildfires in California and Canada, and dramatic warming in the Arctic that is affecting weather patterns across the northern hemisphere. The trend is clear. The past 19 years included 18 of the warmest years on record, and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise.” – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
In August 2018, Kerala experienced once-in-a-lifetime rainfall of 2,378 mm. over 88 days, four times more than normal. The Indian Met Department (IMD) pegged the rainfall in the first 20 days of August at 164 per cent above normal.
Almost all 41 west-flowing rivers originating in the Western Ghats were in spate. The reservoirs of all 82 dams on these rivers were at maximum capacity by August 10, 2018. Shutters of 54 dams had to be opened by August 21, and the gates of 35 out of these 54 dams were opened for the first time in history.
The rivers already filled to the brims, broke their banks with the release of reservoir water and swept everything in their path – roads, bridges, vehicles, buildings and humans.
The iconic Idukki dam and its reservoir received 811 mm. of rain and when the controversial Muallaperiyar dam began to overflow into the Idukki reservoir, all five gates had to be opened for the first time in 26 years. The resultant trail of destruction from Cheruthoni to Aluva, forced authorities to shut down the Kochi airport. Paddy fields and entire villages in the 900 sq. km. delta of Kuttanad, the backwaters of Vembananad lake, some lying two to three meters below sea level, were completely submerged.
The human casualty was terrible. According to the Kerala government, one-sixth of the total population of the state was directly affected by the floods and its collateral impact. As of September 7, 2018, the death count was 483, with 14 missing. Over a million people were evacuated and are only now, slowly, returning to their homes and their lives.
Continue reading this report on Sanctuary Asia website.