Hyderabad floods—NGOs, individuals rise to clean up city, help the affected

By Syed Khaled Shahbaaz

Twelve days after rains rattled Hyderabad, flood waters peaking as high as 12 feet in some areas have subsided, partially restoring life even as normalcy hangs in balance. While the State government’s immediate reaction to floods by sanctioning ex-gratia and 10,000 rupees to each affected family was a sigh of relief, it was the philanthropy and altruism of several charities, social welfare organizations and good Samaritans that facilitated hope among the distressed after the disaster.

Mosques serve as control rooms

From repurposing Masjids as Command and Control centres for relief ops to literally dirtying hands while clearing out knee-deep slush; from rebuilding homes to commissioning repairs of totalled automobiles; from identifying needy families to proposing solutions to flooding problems; charities have shown the way forward to families whose life savings, confidence and determination washed away.

GHMC rescuing people including infants and children women from flood-affected Hafiz Baba Nagar following heavy rain in Hyderabad. Photo: Style Photo Service

Tableeghi Jamaat chips in

The Tableeghi Jamaat which was in the eye of the storm during the Coronavirus lockdown lead by example, with volunteers selflessly working on the ground, covering their faces while dodging photo requests by journalists.

By the way, this is perhaps for the first time that Tableeghi Jamaat has undertaken rehabilitation work.  Its unwritten charter has never allowed it members to do anything else but to invite Muslims to mosques and persuade them to take re-correction course.

JIH Hyderabad

Neighbourhood people, irrespective of religious identity, had no words to thank them for the efforts The Jamaat e Islami Hind that dispatched volunteers to rescue the stranded and distributed daily life-running kits.  Its workforce took care of providing ration kits in the submerged areas. The Students Islamic Organization (SIO) distributed food in more than a dozen localities with over 500 volunteers on the lanes and by-lanes.

Sahatya Trust

Sahayata Trust, the Indian wing of the US-based Indian Muslim Relief and Charities (IMRC, USA), has undertaken repair of more than 200 cabs and 200 autos totalled by the floods. The trust has also vowed to re-build 25 absolutely invalidated homes at a cost of 75 lakh rupees besides providing essential kits and blankets to survive the catastrophe. According to Sahayata Trust CEO Mr Aneesuddin, his organisation has set aside a budget of “1.5 crore rupees for relief and rehab operations in the aftermath of Hyderabad floods.”

Safa Baitul Maal

Volunteers of Safa Baitul Maal, a charity led by Maulana Ghias Rashadi known popularly for collecting monthly funds using drop boxes and repurposing the old items collected from the affluent for the deserving, used ploughs and desludging tools to remove mud from the remains and rubble of many homes in the area, despite unbearable stench emanating from the residue. They distributed water bottles, milk and rice packets, matchstick boxes among other things.

GHMC recuing people including infants and children women from flood affected Hafiz Baba Nagar following heavy rain in Hyderabad on Sunday. Pic: Style Photo Service.

Helping Hand Foundation

Amid the crisis, with prolonged exposure to stagnated water, trash from the river and slush, people had no means to visit a doctor, let alone treat themselves using basic medicines. The Helping Hand Foundation, which has been at the forefront of providing medical care particularly in the impoverished pockets of the society, announced one crore rupees relief in collaboration with US-based charity SEED USA. It also set up medical camps in these areas, provided doctor consultation and free medicines. The two organizations, according to Mr. Mazharuddin, Executive Director SEED, have so far incurred expenditure of more than 25 lakh rupees in cleaning operations, food and ration distribution and medical camps in the last 10 days.

Indian expats contribute too

Countless individuals, including the Indian Diaspora in the United States and Saudi Arabia silently extended a helping hand. Renowned Hyderabad-based Oncologist Dr Tajammul Hussain, eminent Hyderabadi Psychiatrist and AFMI ex-President Dr Khutbuddin Mohammed and his son Dr Mohammed Shahabuddin through US-based US-based Hayat Medical Relief, former Vice President of the Saudi Hollandi Bank Mr Ahmed Ziauddin through Hira TrustVision Trust managed by Hyderabad-based Saudi businessman Mr Jaleel Ansari, Faiz e Aam Trust and SiasatAl Hamd Foundation in collaboration with MESCOJamiath-ul-UlemaKalam Foundation and Humanity First Foundation among several others not only contributed generously but ensured their local wards were afoot in these areas and doing all that can be done to assuage the situation. Social welfare organization COVA posted a documentary it made in 2000 on Hyderabad Floods titled “..and nature replied ” urging people and the government to be wary of their actions. It urged the government to take strict action against illegal occupants and also proposed its resolutions to the flooding problem.

In a cinematic equivalent of real life, 37-year old Abdul Wahab and his horsemen from the Hyderabad Horse Riding School counted on horses to take people to safer locations, provided water bottles, candles to survive the prolonged blackout, and in some cases food and necessary things people asked for from balconies of their half-submerged apartments. Another young individual Naseer Khan garnered appreciation for delving into the flooded localities with food packets and other supplies. Access Foundation through its “Livelihood Drive” project offered sewing machines and push carts to more than 46 families in an attempt to help them back on their feet. Motherland Society supported by a cluster of women-led startups and businesses on instagram collectively organized a relief drive where masks, sanitizers, clothes, plastic ware, blankets and other essentials were distributed. 

Several houses still submerged at Osman Nagar residential locality following heavy rain and floods in Jalpally municipality near Hyderabad on Saturday. Nobody can go and nobody can come as there is no rescue facility since more than 20 day. Pic:Style Photo Service.

Several individuals from showbiz including Tollywood stars Pavan Kalyan, Mahesh Babu, Junior NTR and Vijay Deverakonda donated Rs 1 crore while local political leaders offered donations to the CM Relief Fund. 

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen led by Asaduddin Owaisi and party’s floor leader Akbaruddin Owaisi distributed clothes, cooking utensils and essential supplies. The party’s workforce toured the affected localities hearing grievances and offering both assurance and relief. 

The RR Group of Companies, which has been distributing monthly ration packs throughout the national lockdown announced in March, extended its relief for the flood affected families. It remodelled its half a dozen function halls as temporary shelters for the affected families. Real Estate group Aparna Constructions donated Rs 6 crore to the CM Relief Fund even as reports continued to flow in of several charities joining forces to mobilize, distribute and rehabilitate the affected. 

Shaheen Group of Institutions on Tuesday announced free medical coaching for NEET aspirants whose families are affected by the floods or have succumbed to Covid-19. Dr Abdul Khadeer, Founder Director of Karnataka-based educational group, which set foot in Hyderabad only last year, said “accommodation and education of such people affected by floods or whose parents have succumbed to Covid-19 will be the group’s moral and social responsibility.”

Efforts of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporationpolicemen and women from tri-commissionerates of Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda the traffic police department worked in shifts, 24×7, to help remove trees uprooted due to floods continue to precariously occupy parts of roads in many areas. Though certain pockets experienced a continuous power blackout for more than 10 days, electricity department personnel swiftly managed power cuts and deliberate shutdowns to avoid electrocution in many areas, although one person was electrocuted on day one of flash floods near Malakpet.

While these efforts brimmed with altruism and philanthropy, senior community members advised the youth and volunteers to refrain from garish display on social media. Psychologist Dr Khutbuddin pointed out that “the perennial updates on social media can arouse the desire in even more people to help, but it will also hurt the sentiments of the beneficiaries, especially of those who out of self esteem and fear of being publicized might refrain from seeking or accepting help.”

Apparently, the government sanctioned financial aid seems too little to compensate for the damage and has, as of this writing, failed to reach countless still grounded. Uncounted localities that are untouched by both public representatives and social welfare organizations as yet continue to bear the brunt of devastation. Many small traders, push cart vendors whose furniture, utensils, electrical appliances have become unusable and life suddenly turned upside down must find ways to start afresh. 

Vehicles totally damaged at flood affected Hafiz Baba Nagar following heavy rain in Hyderabad on Sunday. Pic:Style Photo Service.

The reports by mainstream media presented the bigger picture but faded in comparison to the elaborate endeavours of local youngsters, stringers and social media journalists who shot and reported live from the scene braving the odds. Their efforts helped these organizations identify and reach many localities that were barely surviving without food, essential supplies and electricity. Social media undeniably played the most important role in connecting the deserving with the benefactors. Had it not been for the unsung heroes, the young daring individuals in these localities, the grass root efforts of good Samaritans from many such NGOs, hundreds in these areas would have succumbed to hunger and infectious diseases, especially in the year of pandemic. 

A shopkeeper showing rice bags which damaged after heavy rains inundated his grocery store at Baba Nagar in Hyderabad on Tuesday. The Shop keeper said he suffered losses as food grains and other kirana items in his shop were totally damaged .Pic:Style Photo Service.

With all the perils, whatever communal venom plagued vested interests seems to have washed away with flood waters. Political parties, individuals above religious divides, charities and a multitude of organizations have apparently put their best efforts above the underlying interests, if any for the greater good of humanity. And they must stand united as collective activism, sensible journalism, proactive implementation can catalyze recovery and rehab of these families, in whose shoes, none of us would even imagine to be in, ever. The results might take a while to reflect, one must find one’s way to be a candle in the dark. To narrate the essence in Urdu,

Heavy rains submerge residential colonies namely NABEEL COLONY,GREEN CITY,MEGA CITY SAYEED CILONY are still waiting for your relief team to come and rescue them, Its almost four days they are without food & electricity, dont know why your department is rescuing them or opening the water out let. Please do something so that this water is drained out and people of theses Colonies yet to get some relief and they can come out of their houses. Pic:Style Photo Service.

Andhera bahut hai

Jahan se jo chirag jaley, jalne do

(Darkness is enormous Let the lamp burn, from wherever it does)

Syed Khaled Shahbaaz is a Hyderabad-based journalist. He may be reached at +91-9652828710 or syedkhaledshahbaaz@gmail.com 

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