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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Social media connects India with flood victims

Reading Time: 3 minutesSocial media connects India with flood victims

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As the worst floods in 60 years continue to ravage Jammu and Kashmir, social media is abuzz with heart-touching messages highlighting the immediate needs of those affected.

Lists of basic needs like cough syrup, sanitary napkins, milk powder, mosquito repellents and first-aid boxes are being re-tweeted on micro-blogging site Twitter, along with pictures of flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir, and pleas of people whose families are trapped in the floods.

A group of organisations have also come together to accelerate the process of reaching out to the flood victims and donors through a website www.jkfloodrelief.org.

They have made a list of items, compiled by volunteers and reliable on-ground connections, to create a consolidated platform to take small steps in the relief operation.

The hashtag #Kashmirfloods is connecting those who are looking for various avenues to donate, to share, to find their loved ones or to applaud rescue operations.

“Sending clothes is a nuisance at this point,” Anshu Gupta, founder and director of Goonj, an NGO whose expertise lies in flood-rescue operations, stated.

“What is needed right now are medicines that can fight water-borne diseases, utensils to eat, torches, good-quality solar lanterns, blankets and woollens,” he added.

Along with Goonj, Twitter India, pharmaceutical firm Cipla, Said Iqbal Memorial Trust, Uday Foundation and IndiGo Airlines have collaborated to run the website and reach out to millions who want to donate but are not sure “what and how”.

“This is a systematic way of reaching people. At times, people give food items like aloo puri. But at this stage, this is not required. What people can donate is dry fruits,” said Gupta, whose organisation did a remarkable job following the Uttarakhand disaster.

Apart from basic items like medicines and torches, people are asking for sanitary napkins that are much needed during this calamity.

“So I wrote to P&G for sanitary napkins for #kashmirfloods, they informed me they are already on it and are working to save the children. Awesome,” posted Twitted user Surekha Pillai.

Similarly, another user Hemant Purohit posted: “Donate for #jkfloodrelief here’s list of essential needs via on-ground sources – sanitary napkins, medicines”.

As the floodwaters have inundated most of Srinagar’s residential and commercial areas, mobile coverage has become patchy across the city and there is no computer access. Relatives and friends have taken to Twitter to share information about families feared to be trapped.

Haris Zargar said: “SOS: A family is stuck in Basant Bagh. There are 12 people trapped. The phone may/may not be working: 7298871569 #KashmirFloods”.

People have also been frequently re-tweeting information about various helplines.

Arif Maghribi wrote: “Kashmir helpline: Srinagar: 0194-2474040, 2452138, 2455883, Shopian: 01933-261312, 9596028060, Budgam: 9906960666, 9419034370”.

The death toll is said to have crossed 150, in the worst floods in Jammu and Kashmir in over 60 years.

Heart-touching pictures of people wading through floodwater, broken bridges and images of boats being used to rescue people, are also being shared on social media.

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