Tamil Nadu, India: Anxious wait for emergency assistance after flood
Worst affected by the heavy monsoon are Dalit and tribal populations who live in remote, hilly areas that rescue teams were unable to access and relief supplies failed to reach. In some areas, Dalit and tribal men are leaving their villages to work elsewhere, mainly in road construction and house-building. Every few days, the return home with a pay packet but it fails to cover their basic family expenses.
Monsoon rains are still forecast for Tamil Nadu, although are less heavy than a fortnight ago. Kishore Kumar Nag said that food assistance was needed quickly as people would suffer long-term health problems without nutritious food. After some days, strength and energy would fail, susceptibility to diseases would increase and people could suffer long-term damage to organs.
Kishore Kumar Nag, head of emergencies for ACT member the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of India (UELCI), says people are desperate and UELCI is unable to offer assistance. "The people have not received any support so far, and have been requesting us to do something because they are in need, they are in crisis. I feel frustrated because when you are not in a position to do anything, your relevance is questioned." UELCI is headquartered in the Tamil Nadu capital, Chennai, and is in a strong position to offer assistance.
Kishore Kumar Nag said the story of one family of seven from Chennai remained with him. After the floods tore down their thatched house and washed away their belongings, the family slept rough under a bridge for the night, without food, warm clothes or adequate shelter. The family ranged in age from a grandmother, to a child of 2.5 years. The next night they sought temporary accommodation with relatives. The family will not qualify for Government assistance to rebuild its house because it had migrated from its village to find employment and was not registered with Chennai authorities.
Crops throughout the state that would have sustained families for six or seven months lie rotting in the fields, Kishore Kumar Nag says. Local Government response was to evacuate people to schools and other public buildings for a few days but the food provisions were inadequate.
"When we say we must act in a responsible manner, when the time come has come, if we keep quiet then we are acting irresponsibly," he advised ACT members.
CASA, another ACT member, repeated the need for urgent intervention. "The situation demands an intervention and people are in need of relief assistance. We look forward to some response to our preliminary appeal," their head of emergencies, Nirmal Singh, says.
Continuous rain has again lashed Ooty, Ketty Valley, Coonoor and Kotagiri areas of Tamil Nadu. Landslides continue in several places but with no loss of life as people in vulnerable areas had already been moved to safer places. Of the 95 killed in tamil Nadu, 44 are from the Nilgiris area. Infrastructure is disrupted, vegetables worth 150 million rupees have been ruined and several thousand homes have been destroyed.
Fishermen were unable to go to sea during the rainy days and agricultural activities were also badly affected. The vulnerable communities are very much affected as most of these people's houses were located in vulnerable areas. The government is expected to give some compensation for the houses and huts damaged in the landslides, but it is not considered sufficient. Few NGOs have started the relief programme in Nilgiri areas.
ACT response to Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka floods
In the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, also recovering from floods, ACT member CASA has completed its flood relief response. From October 1, it organized a feeding programme in the worst flood affected districts in Andhra Pradesh and in Karnataka through its member churches, implementing partners and direct implementation where member or partner was not present on the location. The feeding programme was implemented in 71 villages in the six affected districts covering nearly 60,000 people. It has completed distribution of family relief kits, dry ration kits and polythene sheets.
ACT International members responding to the floods in Tamil Nadu are:
Churches' Auxiliary for Social Action
United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India (UELCI)
Action by Churches Together (ACT) International is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide.