2018 Kerala Floods: When God's Own Country Drowned
On August 15th, 2018 while the rest of India was celebrating Independence Day with pomp and glory, little did we realize what was in store for the people of Kerala. The torrential rain did not stop and was unabated for the whole day. This continued into the next day as well and to make matters worse these downpours were near the reservoirs of Kerala that held water for irrigation and drinking purposes. The reservoirs were already strained in capacity from previous rainfalls. The rainfall of August 2018 was 164% over the normal for Kerala that month. By end of day on August 16th, the reservoirs swelled to maximum capacity and reached the dangerous level of breaching. Sensing catastrophic conditions it was decided to open the gates of all major dams in the state. Thirty-five out of the 54 dams within the state were opened for the first time in history. Kerala and its people were now at the mercy of the floodwaters. It was the worst flood in Kerala in nearly a century. Over 483 people died and 15 are missing. At least a million people were evacuated. All 14 districts of the state were placed on red alert. According to the Kerala government, one-sixth of the total population of Kerala have been directly affected by the floods and related incidents. The Indian government declared it a Level 3 Calamity, or “calamity of a severe nature”. Never had the state witnessed a natural calamity of this proportion since the Great Floods of 99 (Malayalam month) that happened in 1924.
As the day dawned on August 16th in the U.S., Kerala Club Executive Members were watching the media coverage of the catastrophe that was unfolding in their native land. We saw images of frightening destruction as the raging floods ravaged Kerala, desperate pleas for rescue as water levels rose, videos of homes destroyed and people displaced. We witnessed from afar, the worst calamity that Kerala had seen in a century.
And, just as despair was at its peak, from this immense tragedy arose something else; stronger and more ferocious than ever – the human will to persevere! Fishermen came by the hundreds to navigate the raging waters; the Bravehearts’ in uniform worked tirelessly to reach the almost unreachable; young men and women mobilized and led rescue and relief efforts. The leaders, political and administrative, worked side by side without regard for their own comfort.
As an organization that prides itself on serving the community, we understood that this was a time of need for our brothers and sisters back home. After quick planning discussions of the available options, we decided to organize a fundraiser so that the money collected could be directly used for relief and rehabilitation work.
Our GoFundMe (GFM) campaign was started on August 17th 2018 with the goal of raising $25,000 towards flood relief efforts. People started contributing from far and away, some of them with no idea or information about Kerala but all they wanted to do was help. We decided to increase our campaign goal to $50,000 and our donors continued their support, very soon we reached $45,000 in 13 days of starting the campaign. On October 31st we decided to formally close our GFM campaign after reaching our goal of $50,000.
Giving is not just about making a donation, it is about making a difference.
In addition to our GFM campaign, we received contributions from our partners in the amount of $30,000 and Kerala Club and its Executive Committee members donated $10,000 towards this effort as well. In all, we collectively raised over $90,000 as part of the campaign to support the flood-affected victims of Kerala and this was in every sense a great team effort.
Respect the people who find time for us in their busy schedule but Love the people who never looked at their schedule when we needed them.
Our work had only started as we began raising the funds. We quickly mobilized our contacts in Kerala to get in touch with NGO’s providing relief work at ground zero and started our project execution. These projects have been executed in almost all of the districts of Kerala which were affected by the floods – Kottayam, Palakkad, Alappuzha, Idukki, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Ernakulam, and Thrissur. From basic clothing needs and food packets to free medicines to household utensils to bedding to mixers to school supplies to saline waters to flood kits to Grocery items to cleaning essentials and rebuilding their homes we have covered it all with support from our partners back home.
As we moved into 2019, we continued our charity work to help flood-affected victims across different parts of Kerala.
On a final note, Kerala Club members want to thank all those large-hearted people who trusted us in our campaign and emerged as heroes in time of need. You have restored our collective faith in humanity. Everyone contributed towards making a difference and together we made the change to help our people back home.
Thank you and God Bless.