Social media amplified appeals for help, eventually reaching rescue workers

Chennai Floods How social media helped in getting aid to pregnant women File photo of a woman in Chennai being taken to a hospital on Friday during the floods
news Friday, December 04, 2015 - 19:43

Among the thousands of people offering help and requesting for assistance on social media, there was a tiny number of people who sought help for pregnant women. These were picked up by hundreds of social media users and circulated widely, eventually reaching the government and other rescue workers.

Twenty-three-year-old Aravind Kumar appealed for help for his friend’s sister Nitya, who is nine months pregnant and is due next week. He first posted messages on Facebook on Thursday and later on Twitter as well. Social media users who saw it provided information on who he could contact for help.

One of the phone numbers he was given was that of Shailendra Babu, a senior police officer in Chennai who managed to send an army helicopter to Nitya’s house in Mudichur.

Aravind, who is a civil service aspirant, said that the Army chopper took Nitya to the hospital in the Army base in Tambaram. She is now receiving treatment.

Sashi Kumar of West Saidapet, who sought help for a nine-month pregnant woman on social media on behalf of his friend, said that his message got picked up by many people within 24 hours. Finally government agencies managed to find them.

“Requests for help have been pouring in after I put the message out on Twitter”

“She has received assistance from the government’s relief agencies and is at home. The rains have abated and water-levels are ebbing,” he told The News Minute.

Gunaseelan, who is a reporter himself, had posted a message on Facebook asking for help for his 6-month pregnant wife. He told The News Minute, “A lot of people have enquired about the well-being of my wife and have come forward to help”. 

While he was effusive in his praise for the common people coming together to help, he was equally dismissive of the government’s efforts, which he termed as pathetic. “The ordinary citizens have really helped in this difficult situation while the government has looked the other way”. When Gunaseelan spoke to The News Minute on Friday, he and his wife were waiting at Koyambedu bus stand to move to a safer location.    

Sanjeev Prasad whose sister is four-months pregnant, said that his sister had visited the government-run General Hospital and was taking medicines. Lauding the efforts of the general public, he said, “Offers for help have been pouring in after I put the message out on Twitter” while adding, “The water has started receding in East Tambaram whereas West Tambaram is still badly affected”.

Gautam whose sister-in-law is nine-months pregnant said that they had received help through Facebook. He added “She is now at home in Velachery, where the rains have stopped and the flood-like situation is improving”.

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