HYDERABAD: The unprecedented heavy rainfall earlier this week in Hyderabad left a trail of destruction. It claimed several lives and damaged property worth thousands of crores. Recovering from this calamity is not going to be easy, especially for the poor, who have faced the wrath of the devastating floods.
While on one hand, the deluge has exposed the Telangana capital’s vulnerability to nature’s fury, on the other it has put the spotlight back on the city’s many Good Samaritans, who stepped out of their cosy homes and into the ravaging floods to help the victims.
As floodwaters tore into tens of thousands of households, hunger stared the victims in their faces. With no essentials to cook up a meal, they did not know how to feed themselves and their families.
When survival seemed bleak, individuals from different walks of life, volunteers of various NGOs and religious organisations displayed camaraderie and altruism, saving the day. They distributed food, essentials, clothes to as many as they could.
On speaking to some of these helpful souls, Express has found a common thread through most of their efforts — they had hit the streets to feed the needy even during the Covid-induced lockdown, when a majority of the population stayed at home to protect themselves from the pandemic.One of them is K Sai Teja of an NGO, Feed the Needy.
He is part of the team which started the ‘Serve the Needy’ ambulance service for the poor families of deceased Covid-19 patients.
Teja, who had fed the homeless back then, did the same for the victims of the deluge.
“We distributed more than 1,500 food packets to residents of Bhudevi Nagar near Alwal, Khaitlapur near Kukatpally and to a few in the marooned Nadeem Colony.
At the start of October, when heavy rains caused floods in the districts, we gave away blankets, saris, towels and groceries to more than 1,000 households in Mulugu district, which witnessed massive floods,” he said.
Teja’s organisation is also providing ‘hygiene kits’ — comprising soap, disinfectant, toothbrush and toothpaste — to those staying in relief centres. It will distribute biscuits and tetra packs of milk too.
Sailing to safety
While the downpour started to mercilessly bring Hyderabad to a grinding halt on the night of October 13, Mohammed Imaad and 20 other volunteers of the Masjid E Tawheed team had started evacuating people in low-lying areas.
“We got four-five boats and started to rescue people living in Nadeem Colony, Balreddy Nagar and Virasat Nagar, which were flooding. We distributed food packets too and now plan to give them milk, biscuits, matchboxes, candles and other relief material,” he said.
During the lockdown too, Imaad and the volunteers had fed migrant labourers in the Golconda police station limits.
For K Venkata Murali, owner of a software company and director of No Food Waste’s Telangana chapter, feeding the hungry is not new. He has been distributing around 1,200 food packets every day to the people in the flooded areas of First Lancer and Rasoolpura.
The members of the organisation had undertaken similar operations in Karimnagar and Warangal districts as well.
“The rains are God-sent but the floods are man-made. Many people are suffering and the least we can do is ensure that they do not go hungry. On normal days, too, we collect food from big hotels and restaurants, and distribute it among the hungry. We have identified around 550 hunger spots in Hyderabad,” Murali, who has been feeding the poor for five years now, said.
Help finds its way
When misery is at the door, help, in any and many ways, finds its way too.
Youngistaan Foundation, another non-profit organisation from the city, has been helping out Akshaya Patra with packing food at its kitchen in Narsingi.
Its volunteers have been going to the kitchen in the morning, afternoon or evening to pack food, which is being delivered to flooded areas.
“But we need more volunteers for this task. There are currently 30-40 of us,” Arun Daniel of the NGO