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Bangalore aid reaches Chennai’s flood of tears

This story by me was first published in the IIJNM publication The Observer, on Dec 3, 2015. The Observer is the work of print journalism students who report exclusive news stories from Bangalore and the state of Karnataka.

Five cars with essential supplies are on their way to Chennai to assist flood victims, after a Facebook post by a Bangalore-based youth went viral.

Rains, transport and manpower are creating problems for volunteers going to Chennai to help flood victims. The cars left Bangalore with large containers on Thursday morning.

One of the cars with supplies, before it left from Bangalore (Picture credit: Siva Mani, a volunteer)

One of the cars with supplies, before it left from Bangalore (Picture credit: Siva Mani, a volunteer)

Rakesh Haridas, a Bangalore-based entrepreneur, said that “overwhelming support” from the city had been a logistical challenge. However, he said they did not have enough people to deliver supplies to victims in Chennai.

Haridas, and several other volunteers in the city, had been collecting consumables, ready-to-eat stuff, sanitary napkins, candles, diapers, and raincoats, from 14 drop-off points in Bangalore since Wednesday afternoon.

Siva Mani, another volunteer, said that the next set of vehicles would leave Bangalore on Saturday. Volunteers like Aishwarya Thilak are staying back on Thursday to collect more supplies. Mani, a software engineer and photographer, has taken leave from work for four days to work on this.

The drop-off points are in Indiranagar, Madiwala, Banasankhari, Whitefield, Shanthinagar, Maratahalli, KR Puram, Whitefield, Frazer Town, Kammanahalli, Banaswadi, Kalyan Nagar, Bannerghatta Road.

However, they are in touch with local volunteers in Chennai to assist in waterlogged areas when they reach.

Benjamin Jeevanraj, 26, who is the marketing head of a restaurant chain, said: “We connected through a Facebook status message from Ram Kashyap. He was initially planning to drive down with rice and sambar and was willing to take whatever he could fit in his car.”

He said they are getting in touch with the coast guard to get into the city and distribute food, water, medication and clothing.

Such initiatives gained momentum on social media after 25-year-old Ram Kashyap posted on Facebook, asking for Bangaloreans to help. He posted: “I plan to shuttle between ‪Bangalore‬ and ‪‎Chennai‬ during the next few days on my car with food (Rice and Sambar) in large containers.”

Jeevanraj said: “I don’t even know the people involved in this. In fact, none of us knew each other before today. We all volunteered to help out.”

He said that a donation page was set up and many people came out in support with money and in kind, as the post went viral on social media.

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Kashyap said he would go to the volunteers’ doorstep to collect  food supplies, containers, paper cups and plates, raincoats and umbrellas and money for fuel.

Ganesh, an IT employee in Bangalore, said that another group of 25 engineers is not able to get enough trucks to transport the essential items. The group will send its first truck with food and other necessities from Whitefield at 6pm today.

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