Indian Red Cross responds to floods across six states

Published: 6 August 2015 16:21 CET

As monsoon clouds threaten more rain, the Indian Red Cross Society is gearing up to increase its aid operations after floods killed more than 200 people and affected more than 10 million.

More than 40 million hectares of land in the country is prone to flooding, with an average of 18.6 million hectares of land flooded each year. So far this year, the worst affected states are Gujarat, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal.

On the east coast, Odisha (formerly Orissa) is prone to flooding because it receives 80 per cent of its annual rainfall in three months. This year the government estimates that 500,000 in the region are affected by floods. High population density, homes on floodplains, poverty and weak infrastructure increase exposure.

The Indian Red Cross Society has set up a control room to monitor the situation across the country. Dr SP Agarwal, Secretary General of the Indian Red Cross Society said, “As well as assessing what people need, our trained volunteers are in action distributing emergency supplies of tarpaulins, blankets and other aid.”

As initial response, the national headquarters despatched non-food aid including kitchen sets, blankets, mosquito nets and buckets (worth CHF 23,000) to Gujarat, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, and sent water purification machine to Manipur.

Meanwhile, state Red Cross branches responded to local needs too.

In West Bengal, wide-spread floods, caused by heavy rains that followed Tropical Cyclone Komen (which brought disaster to Myanmar and Bangladesh too), affected 12 districts. More than 16,000 villages are marooned. More than 620,000 people in West Bengal are affected, with 85 deaths due to lightning strikes, wall collapses, electrocution, drowning and snakebites.

The West Bengal state Red Cross branch has deployed First Medical Responders, members of the National Disaster Response Team and National Disaster WatSan Response Team members and other volunteers trained in relief.

In Gujarat, rain caused water logging and severe flash floods. More than 60,000 families were affected, with 21,000 families losing all of their assets including farming crops, livestock and houses. The disaster also damaged roads, bridges, wells and water supplies, and electricity and communication lines. Most of Patan and Banaskantha districts, in Gujarat, lost electrical supply, causing communications outages too.

The Red Cross distributed tarpaulins, kitchen sets and food packets to more than 5,000 families in Gujarat.

As the situation develops, state branches have requested more relief items and water purification machines to meet people’s needs, and the Red Cross system is gearing up for it.

A speedy response is vital. Weather forecasters predict more rains in the coming four days across north, north-east, central and east India which could further worsen the current situation.