I am a Keralite working in Bangalore and August was extremely difficult for me, because my people where struggling. My family was safe. And yet, I was troubled every moment of my existence thinking of all those people back in my homeland. The Kerala floods made me realize that our love for our homeland was much much deeper than we knew.
The other side of a calamity is that, it is harrowing to be safe and away from home while you keep wondering how your people are.
You might have already heard the tragic stories and watched the disastrous videos. I decided to write this post to give you a glimpse of the silver lining of the calamity. Here is a compilation of all the help, compassion, sacrifice and love that the people experienced during the floods in Kerala. It’s a bit long, but worth your time:
1. People took their own vehicle and ventured out for relief activities. Some prepared food and carried them to relief camps, some provided transportation for people, others provided relief materials etc. You can see some of the screenshots I had saved during the floods below:
2. We generally think twice before sharing our numbers with a stranger. For the above purposes, people displayed their numbers on social media with no fear or inhibition.
3. Celebrities used their reach to relay information that poured into their inboxes. Some of them were in the field throughout, rescuing and taking care of people in the camps, some were seen knee deep in water, setting examples. My respect for a couple of them (Read Tovino Thomas) increased manifold. You could say I’m border line fangirling them now.
4. When we thought that things were getting scarily dark, our saviours swooped to rescue thousands. They donned lungis instead of capes, they used Oars as weapons. Who would have thought that a common man would suddenly turn into a Super hero? The fishermen of Kerala taught us that there was a Superman in everyone of us. And for us Keralites, they are our very own army.
5. Where the boats couldn’t reach, the choppers did. We saw God in every person that extended a hand to help. Not only in those IAF personnels who winched people up in different circumstances including the pregnant woman in labour, but also in those who gave the moral support to the survivors.
— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy)
6. Students turned their schools and colleges into relief camps and shift call centers. My sister was in the call center in her college and she hadn’t slept for 3 days! They circulated their own numbers and college number as helpline numbers and in no time, they began getting calls from people crying for help.
7. Many of them changed their Whatsapp groups into virtual relief camps and messages were pouring in by the second – Someone is stranded in a place, some of them haven’t eaten in 2 days, some of them are neck deep in water, videos of pleas for help, and so on. None of us slept peacefully during those days. We used the virtual relief camp to draw attention and call for help.
8. People outside the State and Country contributed lots of supplies and money, formed groups and did their fair share of networking. They found relief camps, enquired the genuineness of the requirements, locations and numbers, passed on the information to rescuers, ensured that people were rescued.
10. We had Radio stations going live 24 hours to keep people updated. They were also accepting calls for rescue and passing on the info. I myself called them twice and they were extremely helpful.
11. We had people opening their houses, shops, offices etc for complete strangers. They had some kind of a blind trust that only came with compassion and humanity.
12. We had the rich, the poor and everyone in between living together under the same circumstances, eating the same food, sleeping in the same mattresses and bonding like never before.
13. We had the common man – My father, my mother, my neighbours, relatives and friends venturing out to help people they didn’t even know.
14. We had temples opening up their halls for the Mulsims on Bakrid because their mosques were under water.
15. We had little children breaking their Piggy banks to donate for the flood affected people.
16. We had friends from all over the country, who never contacted us for years enquiring if we and our family were safe.
17. I had a random person looking at me and giving me a thumbs up as I pushed a trolly filled with baby diapers out of the Supermarket to be given for the flood relief.
18. I had the supermarket guys deliver the relief supplies at the pick up point twice without having to even request to them.
19. I had a friend updating statuses that said, ‘I spoke to Mumma and Pappa after 6 days of no connectivity. They are safe. Thank God.’ and my heart went out to everyone of them like him. He was in UAE. His family was in the heart of the affected area and he hadn’t heard from them for 6 days.
20. There was a sense of belonging when people simply walked out into the road. It felt something like, ‘Yours and mine are affected. We know each other’s pain. We will overcome this together.’ The floods brought every person to the same level and suddenly all of us could see how similar we all where at the base of it all.
There were confusions, problems, and miscalculations obviously because, with calamity, nothing is preplanned. There were so many factors that tried to make things difficult. But we were all focused on getting people out alive, helping them survive and giving them a strong footing. Everything else was secondary.
There was unity in chaos. Kerala is still in the rebuilding process. The damage is tremendous. But slowly and steadily we’ll get back on our feet. We’ll remember the struggle, the pain, the hands that extended, the ones that back-stabbed and, the ones that held us strong. The South will remember it all.