The months of July and August will forever remain engraved in the minds of people in Kerala, because the massive effect of the calamity on life and infrastructure was not only devastating for the state but also a race against time for survival for its citizens.
The state has not witnessed a catastrophe of this magnitude, in over a century. The floods have claimed 373 lives, left close to a million others in relief camps, washed away over 10,000km of highways and roads along with hundreds of bridges, destroyed crops across millions of hectares of land and resulted in an estimated loss of ₹20,000 crores to the state.
According to experts, it will probably take several years for Kerala to completely recover and rebuild itself and probably more for the people, who nonetheless showcased rare solidarity in the face of such a disaster.
This one incident proved how much the plight of the state affected the entire country and how aid and support flew in from abroad as well.
Many states generously donated relief funds out of their own coffers, even when the Centre was yet to come up with a concrete plan for Kerala’s rescue and relief aid. Amongst the first and foremost states that lent a helping hand to God’s Own Country was Odisha, which contributed an amount of ₹10 crores. Except for a brief mention, this news sadly did not make it to any of the top national media outfits.
Bringing this moving act of generosity and empathy by Odisha to light is a poignant and heart-warming post by a Facebook user which is winning hearts on social media.
Many people have come forward to laud and appreciate the extraordinary support that the coastal state has extended to its compatriot on the other coast.
Source: Twitter/Indian Air Force.
Uploaded by VB Routray on Tuesday, not only does the post highlight how despite incurring a great deal of loss and damage due to floods, Odisha showed no inhibitions when it came to supporting Kerala and went out of the way with offers of help and aid, but also mentions how the state’s perpetual battle with weather-related disasters led it to understand the pain of another state.
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One of the most heartwarming stories to have come out from the #KeralaFloods is actually not even from Kerala. It’s from Odisha.
Before leaving to meet the ailing Atalji on 16th August, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced a donation of ₹5 crore to Kerala’s aid.
A day later, there was another announcement to send in 245 Odisha Fire Services Personnel with 75 boats and emergency equipments like BA sets and first-aid kits.
Two days to that announcement, Odisha Government announced another ₹5 crore for the cause and sent polythene sheets worth ₹8 crore for Kerala. By then, the team from Odisha that rescued lakhs during Phailin, Hudhud and Rayagada floods, had rescued more than 2,000 people in most chronic flood hit zones in Kerala.
The next day, a special train was started on Odisha’s request to bring back Odia workers from Kerala. On every train from Kerala to Odisha, two coaches were reserved. Odisha even offered to fund more special trains, of which, two have been started already.
A dedicated team from Labour & ESI Department and Special Relief Commissioner’s office have set up an operations centre in Kerala to coordinate rescue and relief activities to bring back all 120 Odias stranded amidst floods.
Maybe we don’t have all the jobs.
Maybe we don’t have all the big industries.
Maybe we don’t have the best healthcare infrastructure.
Here’s something we had and will always have. Compassion for people weathering disasters we have gotten used to and the heart to extend them help, over divides of region, creed, class, religion and language.
P.S. As I write this, Odisha is itself stricken by floods and almost 3 lakh people have been affected since the last one and a half months. But we look at Kerala, and we realize that humanity is much above ‘ours’ and ‘theirs’.
It is an overwhelming sense of relief to be able to save lives. To be able to call ourselves Odia. May our learnings from the past be dedicated towards saving more lives. Bande Utkala Janani.
Feature Image Source: Twitter
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)