When the first bout of rain started, I got messages from friends about looking for online help! As someone who didn’t live in Chennai all I could do was any kind of virtual job and I did a couple of things for Chennai Rain Relief 2015. I am a homeschooling mother of two and I have no help in anything that I do, so it was business as usual for me, with just dropping everything that was not important to find time to volunteer. I thought things were getting better when the second bout of rains came along and real help was needed this time. I posted out saying I was ready to volunteer and when I got no response, I guessed they didn’t want anyone that was not out in the field! I was a bit upset, only for a few hours as I started getting a list of people to call and confirm if they need any kind of help and if they were safe! For someone with Skype and high-speed internet, it was easy peasy job! The only problem was that network was down in Chennai and nine out of ten times my call would not reach the person! In the past two days I would have made at least 350 calls or more. I had my friend Raj helping me from US, and a forum friend who I haven’t even met, Viggi (Vigneshwaran Shanmugam) helping me from India.
I was getting help from everywhere… my cousin Michael who works for Railways and who was constantly forwarding us Special train information which I was posting to the groups. Then there was Prabha, whose husband was stuck in rains, and she was out there in Coimbatore constantly helping people organise things and passing on the right information. There were other volunteers that I contacted like Pandian from TCS – he personally offered to check on a friend in Madipakkam and made sure that I had spoken to him, I actually called him in the middle of the night and he answered patiently. He runs an NGO called PadikattugaL! Shree Vidhya Sampath who wanted to make sure that my friend was rescued and safe before she closed the case! Arun from the control room who gave me his personal number to follow up on the case! None of them lost their cool. Most of them were probably overworked, hadn’t slept or eaten for hours in the past few days and yet they were there saying it was their duty to do whatever they were doing. My friend Manjubashini, who took efforts to be out on the field helping others. My cousin Vicky who was out there taking care that all family members were safe, who took all their phones to his office and charged it so that they could contact others in case of emergency, he also went out personally to check on others in the heavy rain and floods. My brother Dinu who was constantly sending me messages with information, cross verifying rumours before he posted them out and was calling people constantly to help! My cousin Mathavan was posting out information regarding help required/help offered.which I was constantly forwarding to other forums, this in spite of him being busy. My sister Rama, was also forwarding important messages, even though she hardly had internet connection or power! My nephew Saravana(Chintu) who was ready to offer his help as soon as he got back on the network! My classmate Thirumoorthy who went out and organised food. napkins. medicines when I asked him to and took it out personally to distribute them.
I should also mention about my brother in law Surendiran who hasn’t gone home in four days, helping people with power problems! And my sisterAsha Ashok and brother in law Asokan Chandran for sending out stuff from Vizag!
Oh yes, Vidhya Rajan R who was out there helping as well needs to be mentioned! Chetana Ajit: thanks for collecting stuff and sending from Bangalore. Thanks to the entire CSV family that gave their support by collecting things and sending truckloads of stuff to Chennai. Charu, it was so nice of you to spend your time in helping others even though you were very busy with your own things!
I should mention that I made some lovely friends while I was calling to make sure people were fine. There was Rama from Chetput who offered help! So did Karuna Miriam! I should say I called people late at night and early in the morning and not one of them spoke with an angry tone! They were all glad to hear someone asking about them and while some were safe, they didn’t stop at that, they were asking that their neighbours and friends be rescued! There were people who said their neighbours needed attention because there was a small baby or an old sick person! And when I posted out the information in the Tamilnadu Flood – Support group, many times someone would respond immediately!
All these people should be proud of themselves! Big hugs from me to all the wonderful people who went out that extra mile to take care that everyone was safe! To all those people who thought it was their duty to go out and help their fellow human beings! A big Thank you from me! I hope I have not left out anyone in this post! If I did, please let me know and I will add them!
Thanks to Vaishnavi Jayakumar and team for giving me the opportunity to help!
Last but not least, a big thank you to my family, especially my two children for understanding and adjusting the last few days! The house is a mess, but my heart is happy!