Flash floods and heavy rains in the state of Kerala has killed 37 people and displaced over 30,000 residents in the matter of a week. But even as houses, fields and crops got washed away in this massive deluge, waves of humanity has surged forward to lend a helping hand to those in distress.
In Tamil Nadu, multiple groups have come together to set up relief funds, collect provision and basic medical necessities to transport to Kerala. TNM spoke to some of the groups operating across the state and they say they are overwhelmed by the kind of magnanimity that Tamil Nadu's residents have shown.
In Coimbatore, an initiative named C4TN is heralding the relief efforts. They are a group of 55 NGOs that first came together during the Chennai floods. They put out a message on social media on Sunday afternoon, stating that they are collecting basic requirements to transport to Kerala. A list of 18 items including - water bottles, undergarments, sanitary napkins and sleeping mats were mentioned.
"From the time we put up the post, my phone has been ringing non-stop," says Arun Prasad, businessman and member of C4TN. "So far we have collected Rs.90,000 worth of goods and plan to continue the campaign for another three days. I am confident that we will have Rs.2 lakh worth of goods to send by then," he says.
Over 150 people have responded in just half a day to C4TN's call for help. These include doctors who have given medical supplies, the Coimbatore ladies circles club who organised clothes and local colleges which are collecting necessities from its students. They have further insisted that all clothing will be brand new and no old goods will be accepted.
"Thee lorry association will give us subsidised rates to transport goods and local industrialists will help pay for the freight. We are already in touch with the district administration in Kerala who will help clear way for the goods," he says. "The whole city is coming together to help our brothers and sisters in Kerala," he adds proudly.
And if that is in Coimbatore, Chennai is no less.
Path, a non profit organisation based in the city has rallied its members to start four collection points. These are the Naturals Lounge in TNagar, the Mallika Ceebros flats at Nungambakkam, Sunnyvale Apartments in Ayanavaram and Bamboola in RA puram. The organisation sent out messages on Friday and have already dispatched trucks from the city carrying an initial consignment of relief material.
"We worked very closely with flood victims in Chennai in 2015. So we are aware of what is required in such a situation," says Vikas Srivastav of Path. "In addition to victims, we must also focus on rescuers. So we have sent 300 pairs of gumboots and gloves to relief workers. Only if they are equipped they can successfully help other. Water is a predominant need because the water present there will get contaminated leading to diseases," he adds.
But why is there such an enormous response to help Kerala?
"In 2015, when Chennai was flooding, we collected material in a warehouse. Believe it or not, nine tonnes of the relief goods came from Kerala. When they were there for us, how can we not return the favour?" asks Vikas.
Material that both these organisations are collecting is going to Wayanad and Idukki districts as they have titled the worst affected.
But these organisations and good samaritans are well aware of the state of the roads and difficulty in transporting goods to those who require it, with heavy rains predicted in the state.
So, Facebook Page, The New Face of Society (TNFS) is collaborating with the Wayanad District Administration to route money to their Relief Funds by using their popularity and credibility on the social media site. The seven administrators of the page are based across the world, allowing them to monitor efforts day and night.
"We are in touch with the Wayanad Collectorate and they asked us to aid them in fund raising. We began this morning and 15 people have already pitched in. We will keep it open the whole week," says Dhivya Marunthiah, an admin based out of Saudi Arabia. "This is because there have been several landslides and roads could be inaccessible because of water logging. In such a situation, if we send them money, they can buy goods themselves," she explains.
Dhivya and the other relief organisers are confident that they will be able to provide enough help to Kerala.
"During times of distress we've seen the people of Tamil Nadu forget caste, religion or any other divisive factors. Nobody will give relief material and say it can only go to a particular community," explains Vikas. "Humanity will unite us," he adds.