When my 21st got flooded!

Hello!

I don’t really know who you are, or what connection we have for you to read this. Maybe, we were strangers yesterday, but not anymore. Today, when I sit in the corner of this dark room, crammed with people, the air is fouled by worries. At present, I am at the Flood Rescue Camp! And I have to make sure that I finish writing this before my laptop battery completely discharges (KSEB is taking efforts to get hold of the situation).

16th August

With the excitement of my 21st birthday, I woke up to find myself all alone in my apartment. No sticky notes on the fridge, and hence no messages. I headed to switch on the TV and to my dismay, the conditions in Ernakulam had worsened since last night. The water level was on the rise, the spillways and dams had been opened, with them having reached their bearing capacity.

14 DISTRICTS ARE ON RED ALERT!

Being a daughter of 2 doctors, I have always been familiar with their duties and struggles to be on call, day and night. I speak this on behalf of all the doctors and nurses who struggle to serve the public by risking their lives. My parents too, are off to relief camps, offering support. I’ve spent the past few hours trying to contact people near and dear, to check on them, to see if they are safe or not. Some picked up…others didn’t…

WhatsApp statuses spoke the bitter news, four of my friends had to shift to the relief camps, owing to the rising floods in their homes and surroundings. Continuous rains had raised the level of water in all the dams in spite of opened shutters; with landslides having shattered the dreams, hopes and homes of many.

The realization of the severity of the calamity was brought about by a telephone call. That “Ring Ring” is still fresh in memory.

‘Hello…The water level has reached the basement. Kindly make sure you are safe.’

‘The security has warned me now! Wait, What! I am still confused…’

I have literally no idea of what I have to do, or what I have to carry. Grabbing my phone, laptop, the important documents and my car key, I rush to the lift. POWER FAILURE! Somehow I reached my car, but alas! The last night’s rain has drained my car’s engine and within no time, the water level is rising many folds.

RESCUE CAMP

Stories of worries, of anxiety, of terror…

Helplessness!

When you straight away see your home being drowned by the rains and floods with death in abundance, missing relatives and friends, there is immense sorrow.

Different stories!

Being a volunteer at the rescue camp is tough!

Struggling to handle people’s emotions, grappling to divide the limited resources among the high number of dependents. All is grim! The water level had previously risen to affect the substations ultimately affecting the power.

My laptop has been intimating me with these low battery alerts. I have been ignoring it twice, and as ominous as it may seem, I feel that my luck is not going to last for long. And the third time…

Its been nearly a week and I intend to continue from where I left off; albeit a tale of a past week, yet so extensively harrowing.

The supplies were decreasing, but each time we were on the edge of desperation, there were helping hands reaching out from some corner, which settled the situation. The smile they returned when they got our help was the driving force. Slowly, positive vibes were flashing in the camps, in spite of the worries and tensions. But, the conditions were not all calm.

Fever. Rashes. Vomiting. A lot of people were getting sick; we feared it would spread and affect more people at the rescue camp.

The situation had become more furious! Something Kerala had never seen in a very longtime.

Doctors reached out at night to take care of us. Their selfless love and gentle care brought hope amongst families, in an otherwise sombre atmosphere. Supermarkets were going out of stock as the supplies were required in huge quantities. The petrol pumps too were shut down. Instagram stories requesting help were on the rise… Mobile data was not sufficient… Signal strength was down…

KERALA IN RAIN, PAIN AND VAIN!

Kerala had witnessed the SOS calls of hundreds of people within just 1 week of the flood. Yes, it is not new in our country; but what makes us different is the way we responded.

We never waited.
We helped ourselves.
We ran to help others.
We SURVIVED.

I cannot even imagine what our condition would have been, if we lacked the modern technology, the social media platforms, along with the humanity, that has not yet been completely washed out. I bet there won’t be a single person in our state who has not contributed towards the flood relief, physically, mentally, monetarily. Collecting the supplies, taking them responsibly to the campsites; everyone’s safety was prioritized. Excellent work united with the officials did its best to ensure the safety of all.

Unsung heroes: The fisherman folk

No words are enough to sum up their efforts in the rescue procedures. The roaring violent waves could not scare them; indeed our heroes came forward with their 100s of boats to reach every nook and corner of the state; to rescue every single person in need of help.
They came, rescued, and took their leave.
Not waiting for a word of gratitude.

NAVY

I wanna salute these people now. You have done such a wonderful job, with no complaints, with no second thoughts. In forests, inaccessible areas alike, where help could not reach, the Navy showed up to provide them with the essential necessities and rescued them. Airlift services, helicopters, and their 24-hour responsive helplines will never be forgotten. Also, the Kerala government and the officials maintained their stand and raised their voice against the social criminals, showing exceptional courage and strength to help the public. We are ever so thankful.

The energetic, zealous and dynamic youth of Kerala- who transformed the social media platforms to an “online control room”- who were in time to bring the right news and information to limelight- who worked day in and day out to collect the supplies for the rescue shelters- whose co-ordination and perseverance showed the path of success in the hour of perplexion and hesitation. Hopes are really high and Kerala is assured that its future is safe in the hands of the present generation and their kindred.

There has been support from other states too, that exemplified kindness and humility in many who were currently unaware of the situation we were facing.

#MassiveRespect to all helping hands that reached us in the hour of need.

Amongst many who were stuck in different places, my dad, too, was away for medical duty. Looking back, we went through certain tense moments. Still, we strongly believed in the force of our state, who reached out to help hundreds of people stuck in different places.

Crawling through the messages on my phone, one particularly stands out.

8:00 pm

“Hey! Happy birthday dear
Take care of your sister and mom.
I ‘ll reach soon”
— Dad!

It was dad! And my tears had no bounds then! But he did not tell us that he had to struggle a lot to reach a safe spot.

Among the familiar faces of doctors who visited the rescue camp, there was my mom. And for obvious reasons, she could have possibly forgotten my 21st birthday, and hence I wished her, ‘Happy 21st anniversary of your 2nd delivery’ and poor mom was helpless to wish me, ‘happy birthday dear, and I love you. But…’.

I didn’t want her to finish that, because I knew more people required her service then.

And then, that butterfly who flew across the sea to throw the surprise visit for my birthday was startled at the flooded runway. Since the onset of the calamity, CIAL has been shut down and has rerouted all the flights till 29th of this month.

Waving at my mom in the nearby next camp, I realized what life is, how small it is, and how vulnerable it can be! Here, there were a lot of people with different stories, united by the same cause that brought them together. The floods of 2018 have literally proved that the seeds of kindness and empathy are still not dead, for else we would not be able to take control of the situation.

Maybe I had no cakes, wishes or gifts this time, but this year taught me the lessons of unity, service, the perks of humanity, and a lot more.

And we hereby release the secret recipe of our great success in disaster management.

  • Our fishermen
  • Rescuers of the hour-our Army
  • Sunshine of tomorrow- our Youth
  • Young tech wizards
  • The public who forgot the boundaries of caste, gender, and colour
  • Goodwill from foreign countries
  • The government, the police, the fire force who stood with the public during the days of the emergency.

Now the water has receded, and Kerala is off for her 2nd stage of rehabilitation activities. To get our cities clean, and to regain the glory of the state. We offer our prayers and wishes to all the people of Kodagu district of Karnataka who was also affected by the flood.

Stay Strong Kerala! You were always one to never admit defeat…