Kerala is grappling with the worst monsoon in a century caused by incessant rains for the last three weeks. As huge swathes of the state became submerged, flood gates of 33 out of 39 dams across the state have been opened, resulting in wide spread flooding, causing nearly 200 deaths, hundreds of thousands of people stranded and are waiting for rescue. Tens of thousands of people starving without food or drinkable water. Loss of property, homes and businesses are in Billions. Having lost everything they ever owned, tens of thousands of families see their present and the future as being bleak.
According to the Chief Minister’s office, at present, the death toll stands at 186. 10 out of 14 districts have been severely affected with over 20,000 houses damaged and 10,000 kms of roads destroyed. 15 bridges have collapsed and 211 landslides have occurred. Over 1,01,000 people have been moved to over 300 relief camps. The loss due to flooding is worth a whopping Rs 8,316 crores. The Kerala government had asked for an immediate relief worth Rs 1,920 crores.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced an urgent relief of Rs 500 crore for relief and rescue operations in Kerala. On Saturday, he held a high-level meeting to review the flood situation, following which he also conducted an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas. At least 324 people have died due to rain and floods in this monsoon season.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday said more than 2.23 lakh people are currently in more than 1,500 relief camps set up in different locations. However, thousands are still stranded and supply of essential commodities has been hit hard. Kerala is facing its worst floods in almost 100 years. The central government has instructed army, navy, air force, ITBP, BSF, SSB, Coast Guard and NDRF to send additional teams to Kerala and assist the state government. The Kochi airport has been shut down till August 26 as flood water continues to increase in Kerala.
As the state battles one of its worst natural calamities, which has already claimed the lives of over 300 people, WhatsApp groups have a major role to play in relief and rescue efforts. There are fake and unverified messages doing the rounds which are promptly being referred by journalists and rescue personnel to the authorities.
But what has been affirmative are the large number of groups on WhatsApp, coordinating relief and rescue operations, whose work rules over the impact of fake news. Many of these groups are led by responsible and socially-aware citizens who act as admins, segregated into districts and further classified on the basis of what objective it has been created to serve. So there are separate groups for food supplies in Ernakulam, specific groups for supplies like blankets, mats and sanitary napkins, specific groups for medicines, some for transportation of relief and others strictly for relief efforts.