Unprecedented heavy rains in Kodagu over the last one week have caused severe flooding in many areas, and landslides have taken away many homes and roads, throwing normal life out of gear
Bhagamandala in Kodagu Submerged
Thousands were stranded, and as per the latest reports, more than 20 people have lost their lives. Suntikoppa, Napoklu, Kukkodlu, Makkandur and areas in and around Madikeri and Kushalnagar were the worst affected.
It has been estimated that Kodagu has suffered from a loss of about Rs 2,000-Rs 3,000 crore due to damage to infrastructures like roads, bridges, power lines, apart from houses and crops. The situation in Kodagu turned grim with many villages cut off and many people were reported missing. The entire district suffered due to landslides and heavy rains. Besides people were landlocked as all roads leading out of Madikeri and rest of the district were blocked due to multiple landslides.
N Sitharaman in Kodagu
The CMO had released a statement that about 60 Dogra Regiment soldiers and 12 expert naval divers had been pressed into service on 19th August. They had successfully rescued 873 marooned people in the flood-hit district till Friday. But overnight heavy rains had caused landslides and inundated low-lying areas at Makkanduru. Another 525 personnel from the fire services, home guards and civil defence teams worked on rescue operations in the district. In all, 948 specialised rescuers from various state and central agencies are working in Kodagu district, a CMO statement said.
Rescue via Boats in Kodagu
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited the flood-affected areas in the district on 24th August and took stock of the situation. She met the Army commanders, district administration officers, MLA’s and MP’s of the district. She also interacted with the locals at flood relief and rehabilitation camp run by Seva Bharati at Madikeri.
Seva Bharati, RSS inspired institution was at the forefront in the relief and rehabilitation activities in Kodagu. Relief materials from across the state were sourced by Seva Bharati and distributed to the affected areas.
Seva beyond one’s call of duty
While several institutions carried out relief activities, many others and individuals offered the best of their services, and many went out of their way to aid those in distress. Here are few such examples:
> Sai Shankar Educational Institutions in Ponnampet decided to provide free education to flood-affected students across Kodagu from Std 1 till final B Com.
> 76-year-old Velayudhan and his wife have been cooking tirelessly for 1000 people at a relief camp in Kushalnagar for the last four days. Their commitment to serving despite their age has won them respect and laurels from all quarters.
> Vivekananda Vidyavardhaka Sangha in Puttur came forward to provide free education and boarding for students from flood-affected families for a year.
> Tibetan refugees are staying at the Byalakuppe camp in Kushlanagara collected relief and food materials worth lakhs of rupees and sent to the affected areas. While they have been refugees, their act of love has been appreciated by one and all.
#SOSKerala #SOSKodagu: Saving Flood Victims using the power of Social Media
While Swayamsevaks were working on the ground, rescuing people, a team of Swayamsevaks came together from across India and overseas on social media to save people in Kerala and Kodagu. Social media was replete with distress calls, SOS Messages which were pouring-in and shared widely but with no coordination, such calls went unanswered.
It was then that a concerned team of IT savvy Swayamsevaks quickly put together a team in less than an hour. They started two hashtags #SOSKerala and #SOSKodagu and formed a war room on WhatsApp for instant communication. In a disciplined was, they listed all distress messages scanning social media like Twitter, FB, WA and each person took one case. For example, one of the earliest messages called for the rescue of an aged lady who was stranded on the roof of a house. On one side was the landslide and on the other was a burgeoning river! Her coordinates were provided to the team working on the ground, and she was rescued soon.
Likewise, these social media volunteers saved several people by mapping location and connecting them to RSS Karyakartas on the ground. The social media team’s efforts is a sure lesson in co-ordinated efforts. Few statistics from their effort:
• Hashtags started/ used: #SOSKerala, #SOSKodagu
• War Room Members: 32
• Total Man Hours Spent: 1200
• Calls Made: 1050
• Handled cases looking for help via Social Media: 95
• Posted Social Media Messages: 3200
• Set up two centres where relief materials ordered online through Amazon, Flipkart, etc., would be stored. One in Mangaluru and another one in Madikeri.
• Relief Material collected in the ground: Worth 3-4 Lakhs
• Their entire effort was also Crowd-funded
Connect Kodagu to the world
Kodagu Connect, a Facebook account helped people from across the state and county to coordinate the rescue and relief efforts. The page received an overwhelming response from people with offers to help. The admins of the page got in touch with those who offered to help and guided them to the relevant authorities who were involved in relief operations on the ground.
The page also provided regular updates on the relief work happening at various places in the district. They were also able to connect an old lady who was hospitalised with a family friend. The elderly lady was rescued from a flood-affected area and was admitted to a government hospital. She was unable to speak due to trauma. However, Kodagu Connect reached out to people on social media. Subsequently, a family friend identified her on Facebook and took the responsibly of hosting her until she was reunited with her family.
Kodagu Connect also helped people in the affected areas recharge currency in their mobiles. As they did not have access to the internet and shops were closed, many could not even make calls. Kodagu Connect then sourced a list of numbers who wanted to recharge their phones and provided it to those who came forward to help by recharging the numbers.
The page also regularly updated the kind of relief materials required and their quantity which served as a reference to anyone willing to send the materials.