Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s capital city has faced some enormous setbacks over the past few days, owing to the unholy onslaught of rain that has crippled the city for the better part of a week. Although the rains have relented and the worst appears to be over, Chennai continues to need the help and resources of the entire nation.
The level of social media engagement, sets this particular natural disaster apart from the ones the country has faced in the recent past, even the Kashmir flood in March, 2015 which saw the online community attempt to connect all marooned victims. Over the course of the few days where the rains went from being an inconvenience to a killer of over 270 people, social media and corporate entities have stepped forward to aid any relief efforts being made to assist the residents of the coastal city – home to nearly 8 million people. With big hotels packed to the rafters with expats, no eletricity in the city and jammed mobile networks, the city’s residents have been unable to seek help through traditional means. Luckily, a few startups and the online community as a whole have stepped in to facilitate help that has been pouring in from nearby cities.
1.FLOODED STREETS MAP
Engineer and information deisgner Arun Ganesh, has created this brilliant crowdsourced felief map that marks all the roads that have been particularly inundated and waterlogged. Users who have any information regarding waterlogging and wish to inform residents can use the website to inform people about the curent state of specific districts and streets.
Another one of several effective, crowdsourced efforts to organise relief efforts, Chennairains.org allows user to add to an organized and user-friendly catalogue that marks all the shelters, centres of aid, donation links etc, allowing the needy to eaily locate areas where they can receive help, while allowing volunteers to know specifically where there donations and supplies can be sent.
- Mobile network assistance
Airtel’s connectivity appears to be faring better than some of its rivalling networks. Moreover, the company has decided to offer schemes which attempt to provide easier access to communication for prepaid connections which are unable to top-up their credit. Airtel is offering auto aproval of talktime credit for upto Rs 30 (via a toll-free number) along with offering free talktime woth 10 minutes for Airtel-to-Airtel calls and free data worth 50MB. Even Paytm has offered Rs 30 worth of free talk time.
As far as Corporate responsibility goes, the OLA boat service, although godsent, wasn’t exactly pro-bono. It would be hard for it to be since oarsmen took considerable risk in mobilizing the residents of Chennai. OLA has however, used their website to highlight the ‘safety zones’ that those seeking shelter can head to. According to the website “These safe zones are equipped with relief supplies and first aid.This service is open to everyone, free of cost.”
The list of start-ups and organisations offering help is incredible. Zoomcar has offered free pick-up and drop services. They are accepting tweets and calls to their helpline 044-42052772. Although Zomato has suspended it’s ‘Buy a meal’ campaign, Foodpanda is offering free delivery. services. Several people, including celebrities, have broadcasted common hashtags on twitter that will help get messges across for people unable to contact their loved ones.
— Twitter India (@TwitterIndia) December 2, 2015