19 Dec 2015 15:33 IST

Lessons from #Chennairains

The key learnings and takeaways from the worst floods that hit the state of Tamil Nadu

November 2015 and the first week of December is unforgettable for residents of Chennai and parts of Tamil Nadu. The North East Monsoons showered this part of the country with massive amounts of rainfall. The heaviest spell on December 1 2015 ended up flooding the water bodies, inundating most parts of the cities and devastating routine life.

I cannot think of a single person who has been unaffected by these rains, either directly or indirectly. The post-rain release of water from one of the main water reservoirs added to the flooding, and areas which are usually not prone to flooding, were inundated.

From having their entire houses submerged, to streets being filled with water, everyone in the city had some impact because of the rains. Personally, I had to content with a flooded street and a possible flooding of our apartment if the water levels had risen just a bit more.

The apartment I stay in has a basement parking and we had built a wall of single bricks after the first heavy rains lashed and flooded the street on November 13. However, the sheer magnitude of rains on December 1, overwhelmed the small wall, which seemed so puny and inadequate when seen against the sheet of water that had submerged the street.

That night seemed to be never ending, with torrential rains pouring continuously without a pause — we could see the water level rising before our eyes. The experience of watching the awesome display of power by nature and the aftermath in the subsequent days left many a memories and some invaluable lessons in my mind.

Humanity rises

The days following the deluge saw a flood of humanity rise to the occasion, helping, rescuing and providing relief to a large number of people. The overriding take out from this experience is the humbling reality that there still exist a number of people with good intentions, which translates into action. The stories about spontaneous and sincere help provided by strangers are a great lesson by itself and something worth emulating.

Most initiatives with regard to the rescue and relief were led from the forefront by the younger generation, most of whom were nameless volunteers.

Youth — the future

Imagine a scenario where everyone is caught up in the problem and just sat back, criticising the lack of adequate help. The scale of devastation and loss of life would have been worse than what it was. It is noteworthy that people jumped in with both feet to help others, while many chose to put aside their personal woes to extend support to those who lost much more.

The stories of service, help and support extended by the youth has only validated the words of Swami Vivekananda as also Dr Abdul Kalam, who believed in the potential and power of the younger generation. This is the greatest asset of India. An estimated 65 per cent of the population is below the age of 35 and more than 50 per cent are below the age of 25.

If these vast numbers can learn from the lessons and behaviour exhibited by the younger generation during the Chennai floods, nothing can stop India’s growth in the years to come.

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