Bengaluru: Bengalureans have jumped in to help those affected by devastating floods in Kodagu and Kerala. They are working through the weekend to collect relief materials, set up over 40 collection points at different parts of the city, roped in various educational and religious institutions, teamed up with offices that have large storage areas to store relief materials and have been packaging the relief materials at the HAL Airport to be airdropped at affected areas.
Many have been signing online petitions to reach out to international relief organisations, including the United Nations, to rush help for the victims. Also, groups are active in quelling rumours on social networking sites and are attending to distress calls at various help centres operating from the city.
On Saturday, hundreds of employees of tech companies let go of their weekend to involve themselves in the relief work.
A volunteer from Tech Mahindra, who wished not to be identified, said, “We are updating the list of essentials needed at different relief camps in Kerala. We are then collecting packaged relief materials at a common point to be transported to Kodagu and Kerala. We are not taking a break. The work will continue on Sunday too,” he said.
Cessna Business Park, Marathahalli, which is a major collection hub, saw over 1,200 volunteers segregating packed materials to ensure right distribution.
Trucks and jeeps, loaded with the relief material, were being sent from the collection hub. They have collected medicines, clothes, sanitary napkins, candles, matchboxes, water bottles and food packets. Dhanusha, a volunteer, said that the response for #DoForKerala drive since Friday had been stepped up, and it helped them in taking up #DoForCoorg initiative as well.
Ananthu Subhash of Wandertrails – a startup, urged citizens to pool in more resources. He said that the relief materials are being transported through road in jeeps and trucks, till the last accessible point.
“Entry routes to different districts that are worst-hit, such as Wayanad, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta, are changing depending on the condition of the roads. But the transportation teams are coordinating well to reach the material to the needy,” he said.
Techies tackle fake news
Apart from volunteering on the field, city youngsters are also actively participating in online initiatives to reach out to the people trapped in different parts of Kerala by verifying and attending to distress calls through Whatsapp groups – Anbodu Kochi and Anbodu Trivandrum. Abhijit A., a law consultant in the city, got his tech-savvy friends together at his home in Koramangala and tried to minimise the panic in affected areas by alerting people against fake forwards. “We found at least 20% of such forwards fake. We ensured that such messages were deleted,” he said.
Sijo and Robin, residents of Tavarekere who coordinated collection of materials outside Christ campus in SG Palya, said that the response from students and local residents has been phenomenal. “Within three hours of the drive, our storage capacity was full, and we had to shift the collected materials to the bigger St. Thomas Church premises, next to Christ School. We are now doing it in a bigger scale and will continue till things are back to normal,” they said.
A top official of HAL said that Indian Air Force helicopters and planes that are coming back to the city after relief sorties for refuelling have been carrying relief material back to be airdropped in affected areas.
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