Heroes Kerala Deserves: Those Who Shone During Kerala Floods
Countless stories of selfless gestures were recorded from the flood-hit state. Here are some of them.
Over the past two weeks, as rains wreaked havoc on Kerala, as stories of desolation and loss were shared, another narrative emerged – of hope, of inspiration and resistance that speak volumes of the human will.
In the face of such adversity, Kerala’s people were united in spirit and, across age groups, countless stories of selfless gestures were recorded.
Rightly called Kerala’s ‘superheroes without capes,’ the fishermen in Kerala were among the first people to reach a flood-affected area. They helmed rescue operations in areas cut off by the floods. They have been travelling across the states with their boats, spending their own money to reach remote areas, rescuing people from their inundated homes and saving lakhs of lives.
One fisherman, Jaisal KP, caught the attention of social media and won praises when he offered his own back as a stepping stone for three women to climb into a boat.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has acknowledged their efforts and contribution and announced that Rs 3000 per day, a new boat and fuel will be given to all of them. But the fishermen have refused to accept this amount, saying that they don’t need any reward for saving lives.
The Army, Navy, the NDRF and Coast Guard deployed in the state have been working around the clock to rescue those marooned in the worst floods to hit Kerala in the past 100 years.
Braving torrential rains and hazardous terrain to pull off daring rescues, the armed forces and rescue teams have saved countless lives in Kerala.
An Indian Navy rescue team manoeuvred a helicopter to land on a very narrow roof to rescue an 80-year-old lady who was bed-ridden in Chalakudy. In another rescue operation which is gaining widespread praise, a pregnant woman, whose water had broken, was airlifted and shifted to hospital where she successfully delivered a baby just two hours after she was rescued.
Two IAS officers won accolades on Twitter after visuals of them unloading rice bags from a vehicle carrying relief material went viral. The two officers had returned to a relief camp in Wayanad after assessing the situation in the area.
Prisoners in Kerala
In turbulent times, the best of us falter. But around 350 inmates lodged in prisons across the state stepped up; they have been cooking and packing food to be airdropped or sent to relief camps. They have also been feeding the officials of the Army, Navy, NDRF and Coast Guard who are engaged in relief and rescue operations.
Around 50,000 water bottles and 20,000 food packets are being sent every day from the prisons to various areas in Kerala.
The Relief Camp in Aluva
On 15 August, thousands of flood victims rushed to UC College in Aluva to seek shelter. Shahabas KH, 26-year-old, the youngest block Panchayat member in Ernakulam district, and a doctor couple – Dr Najeeb, an ESI dispensary medic, and Dr Naseema, a Taluk office superintendent – stepped up and managed around 8,000 people who rushed to the camp, despite the fact that there was no power, no mobile or landline connectivity and no water on the first day.
Small Hands, Big Hearts
Two young children from Kochi, Haroon and Diya, broke their piggy banks and donated all the money, down to the last penny, to other children who were in relief camps and had lost their books and bags in the Kerala floods. The brother-sister duo had been collecting the money since 2016.
Just a month ago, Hanan Hamid was trolled on social media when she was seen selling fish wearing her college uniform. Help poured in for her and several people donated money to help her fund her education. Hanan has donated the entire amount of Rs 1.5 lakh that was deposited into her account for flood relief in the state instead. She told TNM that she will be repaying the entire amount she received and is only retaining the balance which she had saved from doing odd jobs after college hours.
Relief Over Celebration
A journalist in Kerala cancelled his daughter’s engagement function and instead donated the money to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund. He spoke to his daughter’s fiancé’s family, who also agreed to cancel the engagement which was scheduled to take place on 19 August in Kannur.
In another incident, after his neighbourhood got flooded, KJ Jaydeep, a native of Neelamperoor in Kuttanad, decided to turn his wedding venue into a relief camp which is now being managed by both the groom and the bride’s families. Around 10 to 15 people who had come from lower Kuttanad in search of shelter and food decided to stay at their makeshift camp.
Actor Tovino Thomas has been spending days in relief camps since Thursday last week, helping out flood victims in every way possible. He has been visiting relief camps in Irinjalakkuda, Thrissur, and has been working there from morning till late in the evenings.
He and his friends started visiting relief sites after they found out that water had entered one of his friend’s home. The group has been buying food and essential items with their own money to provide to the people in the camps.
To Kerala, With Love
Anbodu Kochi, a private organisation which was started during the Chennai floods in 2015, has become a mammoth operation that became the nodal point for collecting and distributing relief across Kerala. India Today reports that around 2,000 volunteers have joined the group, which was originally a nine-member team and are working in relief centres across the state.
Doctors in Kerala
No power, no consultation rooms and sometimes not even medicines at their disposal, but many doctors across Kerala have reached relief camps to offer free medical services. Doctors are also reaching out to flood-affected victims through Facebook groups, reports TOI. A Facebook page called Healthcare Online was started by Aswathy Soman, the public medical officer of Mobile dispensary in Nilambur, who has got on board 10 doctors from across the world to address medical queries online.
“How Can I Leave it Dirty?”
Around 1,200 flood-affected citizens who were housed in school for four days cleaned the place spotless before leaving it. In a Facebook post, user Gopinath Parayil shared how displaced people left behind one of the rooms in the Kongorpilly Govt Higher Secondary school, which acted as a relief centre.
“This place was home for me for last four days. How can I leave it dirty? We keep our home clean right?” Said one of the inmates, according to Parayil’s Facebook post.
A resident of Paravvur taluk, Ernakulam was hailed on social media for keeping his calm and managing a group of 1000 people displaced by the floods.
“He stayed calm. He wrote this note with time and date and shared on social media. He organised a power backup when he knew they will have to be shepherded to the school. Someone else organised large utensil, gas etc, and ready to cook food before they moved in. While others took turns to charge mobile phones, attending to the unwell etc, Jimesh stood the ground,” according to another Facebook post by Parayil.
(This piece was originally published in The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)
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