CHENNAI DELUGE TESTS SERVICES RESOLVE

Punekar News's photo.Unprecedented rains in the recorded history of more than one century, Chennai residents faced a disruption to their metro life style which was equally unprecedented. No one could be prepared to handle a crisis which has not happened before. Gravity of the situation can be gauged from the reported incident of patients in a hospital dying because the life support system failed and relatives could not be contacted. Stories as sordid as these are plentiful.

However, in this environment, Army relief teams were drawn from the troops left behind to carry out essential duties by units which had moved earlier to Rajasthan for exercise. Simply put, skeletal staff, inundated themselves, were expected to carry out flood relief. The army units themselves had lost their office stores, rations, medicines stocks, fuel supplies, electrical and electronic gadgets among many other minor items. The office buildings were flooded, soldiers had lost their personal belongings, families had to be shifted to higher floors and worst of all, patients in the military hospital had to be evacuated to accommodation on higher elevations.

Punekar News's photo.Under these conditions troops true to their calling, moved out and carried out rescue in areas considered most affected by civil authorities.

Punekar News's photo.Given that the relief teams could only be contacted on mobile phones, it presented a huge challenge to relief team commanders to convey what they were doing and what they wanted since most of the mobile towers went off grid because of power outage. Some very ingenious hooking of army and civil networks alleviated the problem.

One major apprehension was the problem of language between troops and civil population, however, the human sensitivity is universal and army did not find any problem on this account. In fact, an offer of help and an appreciation from the heart goes straight to the heart irrespective of language spoken and understood. Troops reached out to help and the population expressed their appreciation in language which makes a soldier feel wanted and honoured.

The Army so far has rescued 19600 and provided relief material to 1.6 lac people. Army medical teams contributed immensely by attending to almost 9000 people in most vulnerable areas.

Some critical analysis will follow, however, the soldiers have proven their metal even in this crisis.

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