Relief camps in Ernakulam find it difficult to reach more residents with few willing to volunteer.
Kochi: Organizations running cyclone relief camps in Ernakulam have witnessed a 50 percent drop in volunteers as compared to the 2018 and 2019 floods. Due to the lack of volunteers, relief camps helping those affected by cyclone Tauktae faced operational challenges such as transportation of relief materials like food, water, donations, etc. According to S. Reena, a resident at the Chellanam Relief Camp, “Due to lack of drivers, we were deprived of basic amenities like potable water. We even went to the extent of drinking rainwater.” She added, “Donations like Blankets and bedsheets also didn’t reach us.”
Meanwhile, organizations running relief camps have turned to their own family members for help. Friends and family now ensure that food and other relief materials reach the needy. Harry Duram, operation in-charge of Chellanam Relief Camp, said, “Owing to the pandemic, there were barely any people who were willing to volunteer this time. It gets overwhelming for the workers because now the workload is a lot more for each one. We have relief kits that still have not reached the affected areas.”
The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) has set up protocols to tackle the lack of volunteers. Dr Shekar Lukose Kuriakose, the Secretary of KSDMA, said, “We had increased the number of staffers when we received the warning for cyclone Tauktae. Two teams consisting of 15 members were formed in the affected districts. We changed the team every five days to isolate and prevent covid-19 infections.” He added, “This time around people were afraid of exposure to the virus. Hence, not many volunteered. However, we could manage as the system worked efficiently and tirelessly.”
Nevertheless, many people are slowly moving out of the relief camps as their homes have been cleaned and rehabilitated. With fewer people, relief camps are able to function without inconvenience.