Chengannur/Alappuzha/Ernakulam: The floods in Kerala have left thousands across the state solely dependent on food aid for sustenance.

As flood waters recede, two teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) remain in south Kerala’s Chengannur and Alappuzha districts.

Locals make a dash for whatever the state provides as soon as an NDRF truck makes its way through the narrow bylanes of south Kerala.

“We get relief material—rice, water bottles, milk powder, basic clothes and biscuits—from the state government and NGOs, which our boys then distribute," said inspector Rajesh Tawle of NDRF’s 5th battalion.

They are accompanied by doctors who are volunteering in the villages.

In Chengannur and Alappuzha district, where Idukki’s Cheruthoni Dam’s water levels and a rise in the water levels of the backwaters, respectively, wreaked havoc, residents have started coming home.

Residents have also moved to the area’s engineering college, which has doubled up as a relief camp.

“Our house has been flooded till the first floor and so we have nothing to sleep on. We have lost a lot of cash and now wait for the state to send in basics like rice to us, so that we have something to eat," said Mathew C.K., a resident of Chengannur.

The state’s tourism industry has also taken a beating with houseboats closing down.

“My boat was flooded and now I have kept it sealed with plastic after manually draining the water from inside. I will be losing a significant amount of business and many of us who run such establishments will be left with almost nothing," said Ravi Jacob, who runs a houseboat in Alappuzha.

Further north, along the banks of the river Periyar in the suburbs of Ernakulam district, where several people were displaced, the floods have brought down the walls that stood between homes and shops, bringing people closer.

Majeed K., a lottery seller, lost his rented house and is sheltered by a church-run college in Aluva, under the guidance of local MLAs V.D. Satheeshan and Anvar Sadath.

It is Eid, but there is no traditional biryani feast. The camp where he is staying is serving plain rice and some vegetables.

Majeed has far bigger worries. His family may have to live on the streets soon.

“Our house is completely destroyed. We cannot move back there. We have been trying to get a new house on rent, but it seems others have taken all of them already. On top of it, this camp might be closed before 29 August as they need to reopen the college for classes that day," said Majeed.

All along the way to North Paravoor, in another tiny fishing hamlet ringed by Periyar, most people have kept their belongings outside to dry. Groups of men and women are involved in cleaning.

“Cleaning is a big task. We need both physical help and material help. We will have to start from scratch. Most of the people have lost everything, from small to big," says Anu Jaladhas, a local politician.

Some 20,000 families have been affected in the region. Of this, about 4,000 have been “adopted" by the local church, said Father Cleetus, assistant director of a relief camp in a church-run social service centre called Kids Corner.

“We are hard pressed for medicines and food. The relief material is not reaching remote interior locations such as ours. We will need donations, in both cash and kind," he said.

shaswati.d@livemint.com

Close