The courage, kindness, unity, and fighting spirit shown by thousands of people in flood-hit Kerala in southern India lessen pain and fill minds with hope.
The worst flood of almost a century in the state led to some incredible and inspiring moments of quick thinking and action that saved lives as in the case of a 25-year-old heavily pregnant woman trapped in flood in Chengamanad town near Aluva on Friday.
Sajita Jabeel’s waters had broken and she needed to be hospitalised.
Responding to a call, an Indian Navy helicopter piloted by Cdr Vijay Verma arrived and hovered over her home before lowering down a navy doctor to assess her condition.
A few hours later, Jabeel was airlifted (pictured – Courtesy: Twitter/@indiannavy) to the navy’s Sanjivani Hospital in Kochi where she gave birth to a baby boy around 2 pm.
A navy spokesman tweeted images of the mother holding the new born with a message that both are doing well.
Earlier, a video posted by the Indian Navy’s official handle showed Jabeel being airlifted from the rooftop of her home. The video was widely circulated on social media.
Days back, another video of a naval officer airlifting a small girl to safety was also widely viewed on social media.
Military helicopters have airlifted hundreds of such people marooned by floods in Kerala.
For officers like Cdr Verma, it was just another mission done to perfection. But for those who watched the operation, it was miracle of a rescue.
The calamity also brought people together. Many unsung heroes, instead of waiting for help, started organising tipper trucks, boats and fishermen to ferry marooned residents to government-run relief camps.
Videos showed some of them wading through flooded streets carrying old people on their backs. Some of the elderly who refused to leave their chairs were carried along with that.
Thousands of lives were saved across the state thanks to quick thinking and action by ordinary people who remained calm, resourceful and resilient.
In some areas where relief camps did not exist, shrines were opened to temporarily shelter the flood victims.
Groups of youths well versed in information technology coordinated with government agencies, rescue teams and media by constantly monitoring SOS messages coming on social media, segregating them into categories, prioritising them and forwarding them for further action.
Elected representatives showed their commitment to people by spending long hours in relief camps mobilising individuals, voluntary groups, and the mercantile community to bring in displaced people and provide them with food and clothing.
One of the lawmakers Saji Cherian broke down on live TV while describing the plight of people trapped in his constituency Chengannur. He also warned the government that many of them will soon die if military helicopters do not airlift them.
Cherian’s tearful appeal made an impact. Military has sent choppers and boats to rescue marooned residents.
The Kerala floods also debunked the belief that disasters bring out the worst in man. Hardly any looting or other crimes of opportunity have been reported so far. Instead, the calamity has brought out the very best in people. It has deepened their social bonding.