As Kerala is trying to grapple with the worst floods it has witnessed in almost a century, a catastrophe of colossal proportions, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi has pledged to donate Rs 10 crore to the Chief Minister’s relief fund.
In the deadliest deluge since the gigantic floods of 1924, countless landslides happened across the length and breadth of the state, making it the worst natural disaster in recent memory. The government has not released any official estimates on the death toll yet, but the media puts it around 300. The damage caused to the infrastructure, agriculture and livestock could be even worse, as we could figure out by looking at the scale of the devastation.
When the nature unleashed its fury across all the fourteen districts without any relent, people could only look with bewilderment as everything they had earned over a lifetime were reduced into rubbles, within hours. Houses, commercial buildings, livestock, roads, bridges, power lines and telephone poles, everything were destroyed and submerged within hours as authorities were forced to open 35 of the 39 dams in the state. Thrown into a scenario unexpectedly with nothing to protect against the rising water levels, tens of thousands of people pleaded to the world for help through their mobile phones. Even after the rescue operations, the tragedy for those affected continued, as there were lakhs of people who became homeless and tens of thousands of people with their livelihoods taken away.
In addition to the announced financial aid, the MA Math has been doing its part to combat this tragedy of unprecedented scale, right from the time the first landslides happened. In association with Amrita Hospital Kochi and Amrita charitable societies at Amritapuri and Kalpetta, medical camps were set up at the worst affected areas in Idukki and Wayanad. Those camps are still providing medical assistance to the affected.
When the tragedy hit, a round-the-clock information and emergency help desk was set up within hours at the Amritapuri campus, Kollam. This facility turned out to be extremely helpful in coordinating the rescue operation through sorting out, analyzing and conveying SOS messages to the rescue teams. The help desk has received more than 12,000 distress calls, including SOS messages from stranded people and appeals from friends and relatives to save their dear ones. The team comprising of more than 200 AYUDH (Amrita Yuva Dharma Dhara) volunteers received and processed every phone call and text message and specific information (complete with location co-ordinates) of those people who require help was relayed to the govt. officials, police, Navy, fishermen and other rescue volunteers. The IT support team at the helpdesk continued to work in the face of heavy internet traffic and became instrumental in rescuing almost one lakh people affected by the floods.
Afterwards, the volunteers at the helpdesk began working with govt. agencies in the mammoth efforts towards the rehabilitation of refugees. As part of this drive, Amma’s devotees along with AYUDH and Ashram volunteers have set up a collection point for food, clothing and other necessary goods for the rehabilitation camps. This facility set up at the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham collected necessary items for survival like bottled water, non-perishable food (bread, biscuits, legumes etc.), rice, sugar, salt, tea powder sleeping mats, blankets, medicines and sanitary goods.
Currently, various branches of the Amritanandamayi Math along with more than 30 amrita Vidyalayams are functioning as refugee camps. In addition, the ad hoc team created by the MA Math is now taking up a massive cleanup drive of roads, houses and buildings as the rains have subsided now. Many branches of the MA Math, along with devotee committees and various Amrita Vidyalayams in and outside of Kerala took part in the enormous rescue and rehabilitation activities.