Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Aftermath of Chennai Floods: Lessons Learnt!

Image result for human chain in chennai floodsNature is boon if you can adapt to its ways but the same nature is bane if you try to tame it!

Unprecedented growth in name of development can be dangerous. We, in India, learnt a lesson recently as floods in one of its metro cities, Chennai! People who planned the city forgot some rules of nature and the whole city paid the price. Among other reasons, one reason was construction on Marshlands and river banks. Marshlands and local water bodies are important to absorb water in case of rains. So when Chennai saw one of the heaviest rainfalls of the century, there was nothing to soak up the wrath of rains. Entire city along with its suburban areas was flooded. The loss was enormous!

Many lost their lives. And many more lost their means of livelihood. Almost everyone in and around the area was affected, psychologically! There were people injured, hungry and terrified, stranded in their own houses, waiting to be rescued. People lost the belongings for which they had worked really hard to buy. But one thing people did not lose was ‘faith in fellow human beings’!

Chennai floods, on one hand were a dent on the human greed but on the other hand they were reinforcement of solidarity among people all over India.

Once the emotional setback will be taken care of, the financial losses will be more visible.
It will take sometime before lives are restored to normal in Chennai and here are few lesson we all can learn from this tragedy.

1.  Know your Neighbors

Chennai stood strong because people helped fellow beings. When water raised and houses at lower floors were submerged, neighbors from upper floors accommodated the families in their homes. Even though everyone was stranded and resources were meager, they shared it. This warmth and hospitality has always been part of India’s social fabric. We are not vocal and expressive about our feelings but we always lend a helping hand whenever needed!

Such tragedies are reminder of why our ancestors valued ‘Relationships’ more than ‘Material achievements’. Let us not forget this in our busy lives and be connected with our neighborhood and neighbors.

2.  Keep cash at home

With ATMs at our disposal, we can easily hear ourselves saying ‘who keeps cash at home now a days’! But when disasters like floods and earthquakes happen, all institutions are affected. No matter how immortal we imagine them to be. And soon economy resort to its age old ways of functioning like cash and barter at least for sometime before normalcy is restored.

We may not need to keep a lot of cash but keeping cash for at least a one week’s need can be a helpful.

3.  Use Digi Locker

Many lost their important paper likes Marksheets, Passports, Pan-cards, insurance policies during this calamity. It is a difficult and time consuming task to procure all documents again.

Government of India has launched a facility called ‘DigiLocker’ dedicated to personal electronic space for storing the documents for residents of Indian citizens. It also provides facility for e-signing documents.

Sharing the link to learn more about it. www.digilocker.gov.in

4.  Take home insurance

Indians love to invest in real estate but not even one percent insure their homes forget the contents of home. We assume that mere buying a house is guarantee of safety for our investment and ourselves. These calamities prove us wrong. In Chennai, all kinds of houses from a jhuggi to a bungalow were waterlogged.  And we learn that building a concrete structure is not enough and these structure also need a layer of protection.

Taking home insurance is one answer. Also we can insure valuable contents as well.
Other insurances like Life insurance, car insurance and medical insurance should be taken and renewed timely.

5.  Be part of Social Media

Social media was the life line of Chennai during this disaster. Information were shared, communication cells were set up on social media. Those who were running out of battery and were unable to charge their phone were sharing their help request on social media particularly Facebook. People in different part of the country were helping by passing the information like who is stranded, who needs immediate help with the authorities and help centers as telephone lines were busy or not working.

Social media did serve its purpose of keeping everyone connected during such difficult times. It is a medium which can be used how so ever we want to use it. The same medium which is used to feed vanity of its users can be used for helping each other as well!

6.  Rent a Bank Locker

Indians revere Gold. It is perceived as a sound investment which can be cashed in hour of need. Also wearing gold jewelry is mark of prosperity in our society. Buying and wearing newer pieces of jewelry gives a sense of pride. In times of such a calamity when your wellbeing is at stake, it is easy to forget about your valuables which later on can result in substantial financial loss.

Bank Lockers can be helpful is this case. Instead of keeping all jewelry at home, we can decide what we want to wear for a month or so and keep rest in bank locker. Some additional visits to bank can take away the tension of safe keeping your valuables. Though banks do not take responsibility of the contents, they generally are more secured than home.

7.  Some more takeaways

Some more lessons were learnt like

  •             Remembering important phone numbers rather than being completely dependent on phone directory, which can become inaccessible in cases like discharged battery.

  •          Children in the family should be taught how and whom to approach for help if needed. If possible, societies can conduct workshops to teach ‘how to safeguard yourself and get help’ during such disasters.

  •          Knowing first aid and preliminary health care like CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation consists of mouth-to-mouth respiration and chest compression) can be helpful.

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