You may or may not have heard of the calamity that has hit Tamil Nadu, India, of which cities have been inundated, leaving hundreds dead and over a million displaced. From the beginning of November, Tamil Nadu has been hit by torrential rains resulting floods in cities such as Chennai , Cuddalore, and Thiruvallur on November 15-16, with The Hindu even labeling November 16th as the day Chennai drowned. It did not cease, however, as the worst rains in over a century was recorded in Tamil Nadu’s capital city Chennai, of 345 mm on December 1, 2015.
Despite being a large country, none of the national newspapers or television news reported on the disaster, besides The Hindu (a Chennai based paper); which led to a mobilization and resilience by Chennai like none other. With over a million people displaced, many have lost families, children or have been separated by their loved ones and cannot be reached because of the lack of power and network connectivity. Chennaiites have reached out on Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp in order to provide emergency relief and provide transportation to those in areas where the water level is extremely high.
An effective system has been provided by notable celebrities such as Siddharth, RJ Balaji, Vishal, Khusboo Sundar, Dhanush, and many more on twitter through the hashtag #ChennaiMicro, provided hourly updates on where help is needed, who is coming to help in which area and what supplies is needed at the moment. And even using #Verified to let people know that the tweets for help are valid after assessing the situation. The first few days, the main supplies needed were food, blankets, milk, mosquito coils and etc.
As the days passed, the tweets for supplies moved into medical attention and hygienic needs as well; what with the stagnant waters many water-borne and air-borne infections can be easily transmitted.
In addition, there is becoming an increasing need for womens’ clothing, undergarments, and sanitary pads.
Although we’ve been hearing a lot about Chennai mainly because it is the capital of Tamil Nadu, Cuddalore has been devastated and relief has not reached the area which is causing illnesses, cold nights and hunger for the displaced number of 400, 000. Because the water levels were very high, transport of supplies to the district has been delayed. According to the latest update from Rescue Chennai— the official Facebook page for the rescue team– Kurinjipaadi, a village, has inhabitants without access to water or food for over a week.
Amidst the relief measures, there have also been many obstacles along the way, such as individuals selling provisions for a price unreasonably higher than the normal consumer rates or mobs ransacking relief trucks on the highway and hoax tweets for help. In a dire and trying time like this, it’s truly inspiring to know that there is such resilience and unity within the state even without the government’s help which was delayed for various reasons.
Because of the lack of transportation and people being stuck in Chennai or other districts, relief measures to Cuddalore are greatly delayed. There are volunteers trying to reach Cuddalore with much difficulty, as there are people being mobbed of their supplies by a certain group individuals whose identities have not been verified. Homes are destroyed leaving many in shelters such as schools and wedding halls and worse, left on the roads or rooftops of buildings.
Witnessing this cry for help, we at Montamil, felt that we need to do our part in reaching out for the people of Tamil Nadu. Although we cannot provide immediate relief, we want to provide any help we can during our fellow Tamils’ rehabilitation period. And to achieve that, we are requesting you to give a small hand in our efforts.
After contacting Rev.Fr. Anthony Kanagarajah who is based in Tiruchy, it’s been established that particularly the village Aeipattai in Cuddalore, is in ruins; houses of 32 families decapitated and all their belongings washed away by the flood. At the moment, they are struggling for basic needs such as food and water. Our goal is to help these families with the rebuilding of their lives, letting them know that they are not alone and that a community even 8000 miles away is ready to provide help in any way they can.
It’s times like these, where the resilience of our community is necessary to provide hope for those that feel they are at their wit’s end. With the holidays approaching, we’d like it if you can spare a few dollars to this aid project and possibly giving the best present you can to those in need. If the civilians of Tamil Nadu can mobilize within a matter of hours despite a flood to provide transport and immediate relief, I’m quite sure we are more than capable to come together as well.
Stay tuned for our upcoming fundraisers and how you can help!