Rescue officials assist villagers out of a flooded area following heavy monsoon rainfall, near Kochi Image Credit: PTI

The situation is grave in Kerala. Most villages have been affected due to floods. There is a shortage of food and safe drinkng water, and people are struggling to find a safe spot. The water level is likely to rise further.

Gulf News spoke to some Kerala expats in the UAE, with families back home. Shiju Thomas, a Dubai based expat from Pathanamthitta district in Kerala, worriedly told Gulf News: “I have been trying to get in touch with my family for the last two hours. I think phone lines have been disrupted.

His parents who are around 80 years old, live in a two-storey-house very close to the Pamba river. He added: “They are old and stuck on the staircase, because there is already more than waist-deep water on first floor. My brother who works in Sharjah had gone for vacations, so he is with my parents. All of them are stranded.”

According to Thomas, his family has no food and no way to contact rescue forces.

Thomas also added, “I personally cannot go to help since there are no flights. I am trying to get in touch with official agencies, including the Indian consulate. The central government really needs to deploy more forces to help people in Kerala. It is a small state and obviously does not have so many resources to tackle such a large scale adversity.”

Another Dubai-based expat Vijay Babu, from Thiruvananthapuram, has many friends whose houses are submerged in flood waters. He decided to do something about it. 

The 30-year-old with the help of some of his UAE based social media friends are helping those who are battling the floods. Babu told Gulf News: “I put up a post on my Facebook wall with the idea that we could send some relief items to people in need. Many of my friends from Kerala, who live in different parts of the UAE have joined in to volunteer. Together we collected some non-perishable food like rice, lentils etc., clothes, baby food and other essential items through cargo. We are in touch with a couple of cargo companies in the UAE who are providing with free service till August 20, to send the items to a trust in Wayanad. The items will then directly be distributed to people in need.”

Anil Chacko, yet another Dubai-based expat based said, "Our house is on slightly higher ground and the water is one feet deep in the house, but there's no way for my family to get out because they would be stepping down into deeper water -  almost neck-deep." His family home is in Thiruvalla in the worst-hit Pathanamthitta district of the state. 

Civilians have been heavily involved in rescue mission all through the floods and a mini-rescue by Anil's father and a group of teenagers has paved the way for army and navy rescue team to get to Anil's stranded family. The neighbour whom they had helped get out on Wednesday has been co-ordinating the rescue efforts for the family.

"The road leading to the house is so narrow that only a two-passenger boat can come through, which would mean repeated trips back and forth to take them all. We aren't sure where exactly the safe spots would be as of now", Anil told Gulf News

Do you have family stranded in the state? Reach out to us at readers@gulfnews.com to get the news out. You can also use this rescue website by the Kerala government which aims at co-ordinating rescue operations across the state.