The news was filled with images of incessant rains and flooding in Kerala. Kerala is used to the heavy lashes of rain but never had she imagined something on this scale. The dams were reaching their brims and had to be opened up, which worsened the situation. The tragedy of Kerala had not settled, and at the same time, Coorg was heavily affected.
A team of volunteers from “Armour of Care” were looking at the pictures of devastation with concern. Having worked closely on the ground during Chennai floods, this team began calling old and new volunteers to work with government officials on the ground, collaborate with staff volunteers and army veterans in the rescue, relief and rehab missions. It did not take long for the word of their excellent work to spread, and the trust in the Army made people open their hearts and purses across Bangalore. Soon, the level of the mission was prompted to a new pace.
Help poured in from all corners
The mission was to help Kerala and Coorg, and help did pour in from all quarters. People came forward at every juncture to stand beside them, be it gathering relief supplies, sorting them or making transport arrangements among other things.
Logistical arrangements were made by army veterans to transport material through IAF planes and Indigo flights because in the initial few days the roads were closed. 12 Army trucks were engaged to move material to Trivandrum central command for relief operations and six trucks to other Army Camps in Kerala and Kodagu.
Relief materials poured in from all corners of Bangalore. People understood the scale of the tragedy and wanted to contribute through trusted sources. Energetic volunteers left their families behind and came from all corners to help in segregation, packing, unpacking, loading, unloading, and even travelled with the trucks to parts of Kerala and Coorg.
Every time there was a requirement, they could see help and support flowing unconditionally based on the trust. SOS team worked day and night on validating the SOS requests coming and serving as first validation point.
Impact of the effort by the volunteers
- SOS team: Working day and night on validating the SOS requests coming and serving as first validation point.
- Rescue, Relief and Rehab material
- 14.5 tons of relief material was sent by AN 32 IAF Aircraft, and 3 tons of relief material was transported by commercial Indigo flights
- 4 trucks of 7 tons of relief material to Kannur and Trivandrum by road which were the only routes initially available to reach the flood struck areas
- 12 army trucks carried 6.5 tons of relief material each by road to Kerala to reach the flood-hit regions ( Things were further taken by boats/roads/air drop)
- 7 tons to Thrissur Chalakudy in Kerala
- 18 tons of relief material to Kodagu
- 1.5 L Water purifier kits to remote villages in Kerala
- Over 4L tablets of Doxycycline supplied to National Health Mission in Kerala
- INR 90k in monetary help provided to fishermen of Kannur
- Cleaning material such as bleaching powder, vipers, gloves etc., were sent, this initiative supported around 3 villages in the extreme interiors.
- Clean essential clothes were sent to 3 villages in the extreme interiors.
- Medical camps: The AOC medical camps first visited Wayanad and 3 camp centres near Nedumbasseri.
- Lightening up a village: 350+ solar power charged lanterns were sent to be distributed through the Indian Army to light up a village in Coorg.
- Back to School kits – Over 400 Back to School kits were sent to Kodagu and Kerala
- 50 Water purifier kits to three villages in Kerala
The true Indian spirit
While informing about the medical camps, Dr Anand said, “As a public health professional and as a citizen of India, I am much happy today. People are safe and healthy, even during the post-flood situation, in Wayanad, Kerala. As part of my profession, I usually roam around all interior rural areas. But this team (volunteers, doctors, drivers), am sure may not have done these sort of work, except very few. Still, they were all smiles, doing the act. We went to the people and asked if they have a problem as opposed to waiting for them to approach us. This was a people-friendly approach. So, with new experiences, new learnings, new networking, I am sure we all are equipped enough to manage any such future situations”.
“I had volunteered for the flood relief activities at the Cessna centre. I was there today as well till the last truck left. I feel truly blessed to have been part of the effort. I wanted to thank for the opportunity you gave countless other volunteers and me,” said one of the volunteers. It is to be noted that the drive was well-managed by the AOC volunteers and army veterans. Their timely updates and coordination efforts gave a direction to such a tremendous effort and ensured that it always stayed on track.
It speaks of how in times of distress, the Indian spirit comes out in all its fervour and with just one aim, to help and save lives.
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