Social media offers hope as Kerala wades through flood crisis
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Social media offers hope as Kerala wades through flood crisis

INDIA’s southwestern state of Kerala is facing its worst flooding in 100 years. The death toll has risen to nearly 400 while many still wait for rescue.

More than 800,000 people have been placed in approximately 4,000 relief camps across 14 districts. As flooding continues to wreak havoc for two consecutive weeks, call for prayers have transformed into calls for help, action, and support.

This YouTube compilation video by TLOI Academy depicts the severity of the disaster:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=MXWGhs6lW5w

Many victims trapped by the heavy rains have already received support from people from all around the world, thanks to organisations who have rallied volunteers and donors to activate donation pick-up points in cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Bengaluru.

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Using social media to promote and spread awareness, they are calling for collections of food supplies, toiletries, baby products, menstrual kits, and dry clothing. This campaign received a boost from social media celebrities, film actors, and comedians who sent appeals for generous support.

Keralite actor Nivin Pauly posted an appeal for people in Bengaluru (Bangalore):

Platforms such as PayTM and Amazon.in have initiated facilities to enable users to donate to the Kerala Chief Minister’s Relief Fund:

Netizens have been using Facebook’s Fundraiser tool to raise money for the Kerala Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

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As reported in Global Voices, Google tracking software allows rescuers to locate victims by highlighting locations where rescues are needed:

Some organisations released online forms asking victims to identify which essentials supplies they needed along with details on where those supplies could be delivered.

Buzzfeed’s Dialogue produced a video explaining ways to help those trapped and affected by the floods in Kerala.

As the death toll continues to rise, organisations and individuals have made efforts to save pets as well.

The Humane Society International, an animal welfare group, has put up posts asking people to inform them of locations where animals are trapped in Kerala so that rescue teams can find them:

Kerala fishermen have been providing boats during rescue operations. In a tweet, the Office of Chief Minister of Kerala declared that these fishermen would be remunerated including the cost of damages:

The Indian government declared the floods a “calamity of severe nature.” As the Kerala state government continues to rescue the thousands yet stranded, they have also begun rehabilitation efforts for those rescued and now displaced.

Tuesday, Aug 14, saw the first commercial flight landing on the Cochin International Airport airstrip after two weeks of slow-down and shut down of air traffic. Certain airline companies have arranged relief flights from the naval base in Cochin.

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The subsiding of water from surrounding areas has left an onslaught of debris and waste accumulated acrosses bridges and roads.

Just as Kerala’s rains have begun to dissipate, fake news and fake donation websites have cropped up, adding to the confusion of properly delivering aid to those who need it most.

In a widely circulated video, a man dressed in army fatigues claims to provide information about military rescue operations carried out in Kerala. The Indian army’s Directorate General of Public Information released a tweet explaining that the man is not an official army officer and that the video has been spreading false information:

Concern over the unregulated sharing of personal account details posing as a fund, collection points for the Kerela Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund has also confused the donation process. In one such case, the Kerala police have initiated legal action against a man spreading his personal account details for people to transfer money.

While rescue operations are underway, the Indian Meteorological Department has lifted red alerts from most of Kerala state. Rain has receded in certain areas but weather forecasters predict downpours will continue in four districts throughout the week.

This article by Devika Sakhadeo first appeared on Global Voices.