Days of incessant rain have led to the worst flood situation Kashmir has seen in 60 years. The damage unleashed by the floods has been unprecedented, and until the rains slowed down, completely unanticipated. Entire villages in hilly areas have disappeared, taking people’s lives with them. Urban areas haven’t been spared as well, with roads hidden under several feet of water. Those who made it out alive watched helplessly as their lives are washed away before their eyes.
It will be a long time before life is restored to normal in Kashmir. Those of us sitting at home cannot imagine what those hit by the floods must be experiencing. Yet we feel the need to reach a hand out to those in need. Disasters like these are rarely man-made, but man can definitely rise to the occasion to deal with the aftermath. We’ve put together a few things that you too can do to bring some hope into people’s lives.
- Use the internet to help share information: Check out www.jkfloodrelief.org an independent website bringing volunteers, donors and technology to the aid of those in Kashmir. A number of organisations including Uday Foundation, Google India, Cipla and others are coming together to gather resources and set up collection centres to source items urgently required by those on the ground. They’re receiving support from IndiGo Airlines to send this material to Kashmir. You can use the site to see what resources are needed most urgently on the ground, collection centres for donations and many more details.
- Track missing people: Google has a nifty tool call the Person Finder, designed for emergency or disaster situations like this one. Set up after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, this open tool allows users to share their own information if they are in a disaster zone and able to access internet/telephony services. Third parties can also enter details of people affected by disasters. Users can also use the list to search for a missing person or ask for information about someone in the disaster zone. The list of information includes details like the last time of contact, whether the person has since been rescued and specifies the type of relief needed. Since the Person Finder is continually updated, chances are someone will have entered information about the person you’re looking for. If not, it alerts those in the area and relief volunteers to the fact that there is a person in need who hasn’t been tracked yet.
- Donate Relief Material: NGOs like Goonj.. are encouraging people to donate urgently needed essential relief material. If you have water purification tablets, medicines, dry foods, disinfectants or other items, get in touch with their collection centres across the country. To see a full list of their collection centres, click here.
- Sponsor relief kits: Plan India has put together food, shelter, cooking, water and hygiene kits to be distributed in relief camps. You can sponsor these kits by going to their website here. ActionAid is trying to provide tarpaulin sheets, dry food rations and hygiene kits to women and girls.
- Donate money: Cash and cheque donations are of great use as well. You could consider donating money to any of the earlier mentioned NGOs, or the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund here to support their work.