A record breaking amount of rain in the Nilgiris.
Reports of people being buried under landfalls and houses that crumbled under the onslaught of continuous rain and wind and mud that came suddenly sliding down trickled in by word of mouth because power lines lay broken as trees crashed everywhere blocking off road access for many hours. We didn’t have access to radio and were spared the sights on TV news channels for a few days.
But even looking around the school in our area where as many as 200 people were housed in 3 rooms tugged at the heart.
I thought since it was on my doorstep I should go see what was happening. Harassed officials were slowly getting a semblance of order. Food was donated by several charitable organizations and delivered by the hoteliers associations. A couple of plastic tanks supplied water. A medical team came everyday to attend to any signs of spreading disease
Everyday was spent waiting for the minister to come and solve their problems. After three days, his PA turned up and gave them Rs.2000 each. Later a blanket was supplied.
Of course, it all became a matter of survival of the fittest. It is really tough in this kind of situation to impose any kind of discipline. Sifting the genuinely-in-distress from the hangers on who were there to see if they could get any freebies is a sensitive issue. In that short space of time, officials can hardly visit the affected areas and identify the people who have lost the most. They rely on the area ‘s leaders who are not too reliable. Given the politics of the situation, I think the government did a great job with immediate relief.
(pic courtesy: The Hindu)
Still people had many wants and demands. A few friends and I collected some used clothes and took them there in a hurry. But the officer in charge was loath to distribute them. Every time some kind of relief appeared, numbers seem to double magically. And fights escalated. He didn’t want any more trouble than he could help.
Now the school has been emptied. Some people have gone back home and hopefully to their jobs. The truly displaced and the jobless are housed in another location. They wait in hope for more hands and relief measures to help them.
We have become a nation where we wait for someone to help us out. But can we truly blame people who are so poverty stricken that they have to grab all they can?