Media CenterCRS Responds to Historic Flash Flooding in Kerala, India

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Nikki Gamer
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(443) 955- 7125


BALTIMORE, MD, August 20, 2018 -- The most extreme flash flooding and landslides in nearly a century have left hundreds of people dead and about 800,000 displaced in Kerala state, in southwest India. Catholic Relief Services (CRS), in collaboration with the government and local partners, is working quickly to provide emergency aid to thousands of families impacted by the disaster.

“People here have lost everything, including their cars, their keepsakes and their clothes. Many have even had their homes washed away by landslides. Others are coming back to find their homes in complete ruin,” said Jomey Joseph, CRS’ head of office in Chennai who is leading the agency’s Kerala response. “People say they’ve never witnessed so much rain in their lifetimes. Even those families who are better off have been devastated by this disaster.”

In Kerala, monsoon season started as far back as June, although the rains didn’t become severe until the beginning of August, when flash flooding caused rivers to overflow and nearly three dozen dams to be breached.  

In addition to families losing their homes and belongings, food has become scarce in places like Wayanad District, in the northeastern part of Kerala state. Here people mostly survive on agriculture and foraging, but the floods decimated crops and cut off access to forests. Clean drinking water is also an issue because most of the wells are contaminated.

“This part of Kerala is a tribal area where people are already socio-economically marginalized. The living conditions are substandard and the flooding is making a bad situation much worse,” Jomey said. “You have families who don’t even have access to a dry change of clothes.”

CRS is providing assistance to more than 2,000 families in Wayanad District, one of the hardest hit and isolated areas impacted by the flooding. CRS distributions include:

  • Water purifying tablets for clean drinking water
  • Buckets for safe water storage
  • Hygiene items, such as soap and sanitary napkins
  • Shelter kits that include tarps and blankets

The government of India estimates that the damage caused by the flash flooding and landslides will cost more than $1.1 billion U.S. dollars.

“Even though the rain has started to let up, people are in urgent need of assistance, and will be for the foreseeable future,” Jomey said


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief@CRSnewsYouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

Nikki Gamer

Senior Public Affairs Manager

Nikki Gamer
August 20, 2018

Based in Baltimore, MD

Nikki is the Senior Public Affairs Manager for CRS and connects journalists to regional stories and sources related to the agency’s life-saving development work. Previously, Nikki worked as the Communications Officer for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. She has covered CRS’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass displacement...More