Unless you’re south Indian, you’ve probably not heard about the floods in Chennai (Madras) due to the lack of media coverage – being Australian, I wouldn’t have known if it weren’t for my grandma who lives in south India (thankfully not in Chennai).
The attacks in Paris had a death toll of 132 people and generated worldwide support and media coverage, whilst the floods in Chennai have taken over 270 lives yet have not even had national media coverage (only been reported on by some south Indian media outlets), and the citizens of Chennai have been left to fend for themselves.
Locals feel frustrated with the absence of government relief attempts and prior attempts to reduce the severity of the situation, saying that city authorities failed to warn citizens of the likelihood of flooding.
Moreover, the floods are largely a man made cause. Whilst the heavy rains were caused by a low pressure area in the Bay of Bengal, the flooding itself can be attributed to man made causes. Chennai has failed to maintain an effective storm water drainage system, and passages to creeks and culverts are blocked with waste due to excessive garbage dumping. The situation was further exacerbated by authorities who failed to inform citizens that they were going to open overflowing reservoirs into the Adyar river, which led to a sharp rise in water levels and the submersion of neighbourhoods.
Another man made factor contributibg to the catastrophic floods is Chennai’s poor urban planning; with illegal construction (+ lack of storm water drains in these constructions), blocking of water exits and badly planned or unimplemented projects.
In the days immediately following the flooding, civic authorities and/or police did not come to the citizens’ aid, leaving them to undertake relief action themselves.
This lack of government action has however brought to light the humanity of Chennai’s locals who have shown an outpour of kindness as the city bands together to support eachother; with locals posting their addresses online to offer food and shelter to those in need, theatres/malls/restaurants opening their doors, families cooking all night to distribute food to the hungry, locals offering to charge phones (the rain has cut off electricity in many parts of the city) and recharge them w talktime/data for those without electricity and phone balance, as well as impromptu rescue teams being formed to help those who’ve been stranded (people, as well as cows, lambs, dogs, pigs etc.).
How you can help
Whilst Chennai locals are helping eachother, here are some ways you can also help Chennai flood victims from afar:
Give blankets and medical aid – donate to Women of Worth to assist them in giving blankets, mats and other required items to those in flood affected areas, as well as support the medical canps they’re settinf up to respond to the outbreak of illness.
Donate to Rapid Response to fund emergency on the ground relief – you can choose to donate towards a relief package (food, water, blanket, torch) for a family, educational support for children, livelihood support for an affected citizen, to organise a health camp or to provide temporary shelter for a family.
Provide relief kits – donate to World Vision India for flood relief kits including bedsheets, clothing and other materials
Feed the hungry – donate to the Chennai Rain Relief 2015 organisation which is working to distribute food to the affected and conduct volunteer rescue missions.
Buy a meal – the food app Zomato has started the Chennai Flood Relief program which allows users of the app to purchase a meal for those affected by the floods.