Friday, October 25, 2013

Fevers and heavy rains hit Andhra Pradesh

This clip from Telegu-language newspaper Eenadu shows
devastating floods in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
Until fevers and heavy rains slowed his crew, Fr. Varghese and a total of 70 volunteers from Holy Family Mission were rebuilding homes partially or entirely swept away by Cyclone Phailin. Hitting nearly two weeks ago, Phailin was the strongest cyclone ever recorded over the Indian Ocean.
Fr.'s camera was swept away in floods
last Fall, so he can only share clippings
from local papers. These show several
houses of Catholic families destroyed
by Phailin.

Villagers were so traumatized by the storm, many hugged the missionary's legs and cried as he visited from one household to the next. After assessing damage, Fr. met with the elders of his church, and volunteer construction crews were organized to fan out and erect shelters for the people.

"Because of strikes and bandh (throwing people out of work due to Telengana statehood tensions) people had no money, as I expected," wrote Fr. Varghese, "so they agreed to come for voluntary work."

A number were masons and carpenters with invaluable experience for the job.

The lack of funds and resources meant they had to do "very creative constructions," said Father, who labored with the work crews by day, then spent evenings in the villages to help restore normality. People scavenged bits and pieces of building materials, and built new walls with scraps the best they could. Only time will tell if the materials are sturdy enough to withstand monsoon rains.

Seven families were moved temporarily into the mission church at Dibbelepalem, said Fr. Varghese.

A number of homes now have reinforced walls but no ceilings, since a promised donation to buy tin sheets for roofing didn't arrive until late in the week.

By then, many people were in sickbeds with fevers, and Fr. Varghese found himself with a reduced crew.

Several days ago, he wrote that rains were especially heavy in the South, which was interrupting power supplies and networks. His village of Dibbelepalem was without power altogether. But now four days of renewed rains have brought canals and rivers across the state to "spate" -- overflowing and sweeping away any normality.

This Times of India video reports on the severe state of emergency across the region.

October 24, 2013 headlines in the Deccan Chronicle out of nearby Rahjamundry, read:

"Rains cause havoc in Godavari districts"

"Paddy fields inundated by rains, cotton crop likely to be affected in 2,700 hectares..."

"Heavy rains throw life out of gear: railway tracks, highways submerged leaving vehicles stranded, rescue measures deployed."

"Rains batter state, wash away 6 people"

As many as 50,000 people are displaced from homes. More than 500 villages are cut off and inaccessible because highways and secondary roads are flooded. Whole villages are without or have only limited power.

He knows of seven other parishes across the Diocese of Visakhapatnam that were struggling after Cyclone Phailin, says Fr. Varghese -- and that was before these latest rains swept over the region.

A number of Fr.'s friends daily pray Psalm 91 for this missionary and his people. Please consider praying this powerful Psalm for protection and uplift of this entire flood-ravaged region.

If you would like to help provide needed emergency relief funds for food and rebuilding supplies, please use the donate buttons at right for Paypal or credit card.

Clippings from Eenadu show flood
misery across the area.

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