As the latest weather report brings in hope about no fresh rainfall, the two-week long downpour that has left Kerala battered and 7 lakh people stranded, saw various rescue operations in place to save people in this time of emergency.
A team from Chennai led by Dinesh Baba, reached Kerala to rescue all the animals who were affected – and still trapped in the flooded regions.
The team – a four member rescue gang– compromising of Nishanth Nichu, Dinesh Baba, Arjun Shah and Albert Peter Christopher left Chennai with very limited relief material – that simply included a few bags of dog and cat food, sanitary napkins and milk powder, because the team primarily focused on the rescue.
The team started with Idhuki – which was badly affected by landslides and led to most of the animals being dead or gravely injured – after which the team moved to Kottayam.
Owing to this being a rescue operation – they pre-planned how to go about the rescues – but to get to affected areas they have had to work hard with little or no food and having to sleep either in the pavement or inside their car.
In Kottayam, the team initiated a rescue where they found 18 dogs in a flooded backyard of a woman whose house was located right next to the backwaters and had accumulated 10-feet of water. The team had to use a rescue boat to get the dogs out as it was almost neck-deep water.
Dinesh is trained in disaster rescue, and they were all equipped to get the animals out.
Shravan Krishnan, who is part of this team but presently at Chennai said how rescuing the animals is in itself a task because animals are often in a state of panic and pacifying them enough to get them out is primary. “Dinesh and the others also carry out rescues in Chennai, where they go deep in wells and facilitate animals getting out safely,” Krishnan said.
Locating these animals is also a challenge. In the distress, they have to only rely on a pan-India network, which is coordinating with each other. Shravan states how along with his team from Chennai, and NGO Keralas, a team from Pune and Hyderabad is also set to arrive.
The rescue team relies on call-centres that operate from Jaipur and Bombay – operated by people who speak Malayalam – and they have to get all the exact details to carry out the rescue.
“The name, age, location, the GPS coordination, how deep the water is – they have to pass it on to us for us to figure out how to go about that rescue there,” he said.
The next step after the rescue is facilitating and figuring out where to put these animals – usually, the team tries to reunite them with their owner, or in situations like Kottayam takes them to rescue camps set up by local NGOs. With strays, they have to resort to treating them and leaving them at the Centre operated rescue relief camps.
The team has moved on from Kottayam and are heading towards Chengannur to carry out the next rescue.