No one can really be prepared for an emergency. Mainly because we somehow think that in the event of a calamity (god forbid), we will be spared of impact. But does luck favour us every time?
Last Tuesday, It started pouring. Continuously. Badly. With Vengeance. The highest ever in over a century. This went on till Friday, forcing all offices to close operations bringing the entire city to a standstill. Streets were water logged and power was out in many places; mostly as preventive measures, network was down and reaching people even through landlines became an issue. Ground floors were badly damaged in many areas, forcing people to move to higher floors and in places where that luxury wasn’t available, they were forced to wait in knee/waist/neck-deep waters till help came by.
My 78 year old Grandmother said this was the worst ever floods she has witnessed in her lifetime. The damage was too much, emotionally and financially.
Just imagine this. You are forced to live without any dependence on technology, without much human contact, learning to use every drop of water wisely, and being forced to sit in one place because of the difficulty in venturing out. Or even worse, being forced to move to another safer, higher level accommodation under someone’s mercy, leaving behind everything that was yours till a few minutes back. Imagine how it would be when you’re desperately waiting for someone to give you a piece of bread or biscuit or anything palatable. Imagine how it would be to see everything that you saved and built over these years slowly sink in the waters, in front of your eyes.
Image Courtesy : Google (Not mine!)
A day after the torrential rains, while it was still pouring, Chennai’s citizens decided to take things in their hand. They showed the rains that it cannot deter their spirits to help their fellow citizens in trouble. Even before the Army and NDRF could start rescue operations, the citizens came together and opened their doors to those who would need a roof. People made the best use of social media to coordinate and provide contacts of volunteers on an area basis, who would be point of contact for checking on people or arranging measures for rescuing them, to providing updates on the conditions and requesting for relief material. What started slowly, gained a lot of momentum over the day, and over the next couple of days and we had a massive group of people coordinating and Volunteering on the ground and overseeing relief measures. All this despite power and connectivity and accessibility issues.
Whoever wanted to help, helped. Whoever could help, helped. Whoever wanted to help but couldn’t, wished they could help and prayed. And for whom did they do all this? For some random people whom they might never have met or will possibly never meet. The intention was just to help, anyone and everyone. Of course, large scale rescue and evacuation and relief measures were taken over by authorities (Respect!) but it is amazing to see how people extended their hands to those who were in need in those critical hours.
It’s been over a month since the students went back to Schools and colleges thanks to the continuous spells of rain. We office-goers used to wonder if we would get such rain-based holidays. We got one rain-holiday last week and we thought we were done with it. But this week, all offices had to shut down for almost 4 days because of the havoc that was wreaked on the city, strong enough to bring a metro like Chennai to a stand-still. Never ever would I ask for a rain-holiday again. Never. But among all this, if I have learnt something, it’s the never-give up spirit of the city and its citizens, especially in situations like these. I’ve always been proud of my city and after the way the citizens helped each other get back to normalcy, I couldn’t be more proud of the city that raised me!
Here’s to Chennai and to all the volunteers and unsung heroes!