Saturday, July 20, 2013

Flood victims shelter in Yerravaram church

Fr. Varghese sent this press clipping from 
the local paper "Eenadu" to show flood 
conditions in Yerravaram.

Emergency flood conditions continue in Yerravaram, one of five scattered villages served by Fr. Varghese. 

"Chaos, robbery and two rape cases" unfolded as flood waters rose, says the missionary. Read yesterday's post about how nearly a week of incessant rains caused the Godavari River to surge, causing drowning deaths of six people in this village, known for having the largest statue of Hindu god Hanuman in all India. People have lost crops to the floodwaters, and those who lost their lives had gone out searching for missing livestock. 
The biggest concerns now are evacuating people 
from low-lying canal areas and providing them 
with sanitary water. Shown here is the bore 
well at Holy Family Mission. Wells in 
Yerravaram are flooded and 
"The lost ones have no fear, "explains Fr. Varghese. "They simply go in search of their cow and sheep," and then drown in the floodwaters. Twelve flood-displaced Catholic families have left damaged and destroyed thatch-roofed homes in lowlands along the Godavari Canal to take refuge in their mission church. Since the church lacks indoor plumbing, toilet and other facilities, people are going into the forest to see to basic needs.

Fr. Varghese is shown here Holy Week of 2013, in
the mission church in Yerravaram. Now, 12

Catholic families who were flooded out of their 
thatch-roofed huts are living in the church.
Fr. Varghese says he and his volunteers are going door-to-door along the Godavari Canal, to convince "Catholics as well as others to move from the huts." He sees people of faith being willing to evacuate. But some others are not leaving. "They are ready to die in that house, cursing God and fate."

Government choppers drop food several times in such emergencies, and government workers are setting up a camp for some relocated residents, but people still lack sanitary water, and are developing fevers. Others are injured and risk developing infections. Medical workers are striving to reach residents with needed vaccines and care. 

Fr. and his volunteers started a community outreach to get safe water to the suffering. Twice a day they are renting a tanker and drawing water from the public well in their colony, to transport it to Yerravaram. People of all faiths are helping to distribute the water to villagers "in an orderly way," says Fr. Varghese. They have already made four trips with water. Each trip costs $30 in tanker rental.

Please pray God's blessings on this situation, so people might be reached with aid they need, keep faith and strength to move forward, and rebuild their lives. 

From this day until this crisis is resolved, funds donated through the "donate" button on this site will go directly to emergency relief efforts. Thank you and God bless you! 

The Godavari looks peaceful, but turns deadly in 
monsoon season, which just began in east 
central India.
Interesting note: Fr. Varghese's camera was lost out of his back pocket as he was rescuing a girl in flood relief efforts last year. Ironically, the day floods hit his region this week, a friend had dropped a simple, used camera in the mail, and it's now working its slow way across the globe to the missionary. In the meanwhile, Fr. has been borrowing cameras whenever possible to catalogue life at his mission, and he sent the press clipping above to show current conditions. 

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