Amidst the gloom of the Kerala floods, heartwarming stories of courage and love

Kerala is going through the worst crisis in more than a hundred years. The death toll in the floods has reached 400, with more than 10 lakh people in relief camps. While the water levels have receded, the floods have left behind much devastation – destroyed homes, lives that have been lost, trees that have been uprooted, dead animals, lack of food and other supplies, no electricity or drinking water in many places. Towns such as Chengannur and Chalakkudy have been badly affected.

However, amidst all this gloom, the floods have also seen humanity rise above differences to work together and save lives. From the coast guards, the fishermen, the neighbours who have helped out, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officials and the Armed Forces who went against all odds to rescue people, to the many who donated whatever little they had to help those in distress, we salute the heroes who helped the people of Kerala:

The fishermen: The biggest heroes in the rescue operations have been the fishermen, many of whom have put in their own money to transport boats and fuel over long distances to help people marooned in the floods. The fishermen, who had to battle Cyclone Okhi in December last year, are used to the ways of the sea and have boats that can navigate choppy waters.  More than 1,200 members of the fishing community and around 600 boats have been involved in rescue operations. In gratitude of their service, Chief Minister Pinnarayi Vijayan had offered Rs 3,000 for each member of the community, however, the fishermen have refused to accept it. In a video, a leader of the community, Khais Mohammad, said that money was not the motive behind the deed.

Anupriya: Moved by what she saw in the news, nine-year-old Anupriya from Villupuram in Tamil Nadu donated her four-years worth of savings to the victims of the Kerala floods. The class 2 student had saved Rs 9,000 in her piggy banks to buy a new cycle. Touched by her gesture, cycle manufacturer Hero Cycles has promised Anupriya a cycle for every year of her life.

Wing Commander Prashanth: In a dramatic rescue operation, a toddler was lifted to safety in a helicopter from the rooftop of a half-submerged house. Wing Commander Prashanth slid down a rope to the rooftop of the house, picked the little boy, and held him as the two were winched back to safety. The baby’s mother, who had been rescued earlier, was in tears as she received her child in the helicopter. Viral videos of the rescue have been doing the rounds, bringing cheer amidst the gloom.

Kanhaiya Kumar: In a scene right out of a movie, an NDRF official, who was later identified as Kanhaiya Kumar, ran across a bridge in Idukki with a child in his hands. Just minutes after his daring rescue, the bridge collapsed. Kumar hails from Bihar and has been in the profession for six years. In an interview to ANI, Kumar said that while he wanted to take the child to the nearby hospital, he had not expected such a positive reaction from the public.

Sunitha from Thrissur: When rescue workers and volunteers reached the house of Sunitha from Thrissur, she refused to leave. The reason – rescue workers were unable to accommodate the 25 dogs that she had given shelter to. Sunitha refused to leave her dogs behind and it was only after the animal welfare group, Humane Society International arrived that she and her dogs were finally rescued. Currently, Sunitha and her dogs are staying at a rescue set up for abandoned animals. Sally Varma of the Humane Society international has informed AFP that she has started a fundraiser so that Sunitha can build a kennel at her house once the floods recede.

Jaiswal KP: Visuals from Thrissur of a man dressed in blue kneeling down so that women and children could use him as a bridge to get into an NDRF boat, went viral. The man, who was identified as  Jaiswal KP, a 32-year-old fisherman, knelt down in muddy water so that women could climb on his back and get on the boat.

PM Manoj, Resident Editor, Deshabhimani: The senior journalist’s daughter Devi, was set to get engaged with Advocate Sudhakaran on August 19th. However, rather than going ahead with the ceremony, Manoj cancelled the engagement and donated the money to the CM’s Disaster Relief Fund.

Vishnu Kachhawa: After returning from his business trip to Haryana, MP native Vishnu Kachhawa, who earns a living selling blankets door-to-door in Iritty in Kannur, visited the Iritty Taluk office to sell his blankets. The deputy tehsildar discouraged him from venturing out for his rounds due to the floods. Kacchawa, who had planned to sell his entire stock, then informed the tehsildar that he wished to donate 50 blankets to the Adichukooti Government School camp. Kachhawa came to Kerala when he was just 16 years old. He lives with his wife and two children in Kannur.

Commander Vijay Varma: Sajita Jabil, who was in an advanced stage in her pregnancy, was stuck on the rooftop of her house in Aluva when her amniotic sac ruptured. In a daring mission, Naval Commander Vijay Varma winched Jabil up to the helicopter and flew her to a hospital. A Doctor had been lowered to check her condition before she was lifted into the helicopter. The same day she delivered a healthy baby. A huge ‘Thanks’ was painted on the rooftop of the house by the family, thanking the Navy for their help.