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Aftermath of Harvey : Sewa International Rescues Stranded Texans. Here’s How You Can Help Too!

As hurricane Harvey left the streets swamped, Sewa International volunteers took to the ground to offer assistance. The good news is you can help, too!

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Sewa volunteers continue to smile, even in the face of adversity. Sewa International website

Houston, September 5, 2017 : For over a week in August, Houston, home to almost six million people, became a city under siege. As hurricane Harvey left the streets swamped and the people marooned without food and water, Sewa International volunteers in Houston took to the ground to undertake relief and rescue operations.

Sewa International is a Hindu faith-based, nonprofit service organization that specializes in undertaking disaster relief and rehabilitation programs.

Living up to their motto, ‘Together we serve better’ and smiling even in the face of adversity, teams of volunteers constantly coordinated relief efforts undertaken by Sewa volunteers in their respective local Houston municipalities along with helping people find shelter during the heavy rains. Additionally, the volunteers also delivered food to people stranded during the storm.

In the aftermath of the destructive tropical storm, relief efforts by Sewa International volunteers, largely assisted by the Indian community in Houston, continue to provide rescue and respite to the victims of hurricane Harvey.  Volunteers are committed to rescuing people stranded on the roads in their trucks and boats while doctors associated with the organization are offering free medical consultation.

Sewa Hot Line: (281) 909-7392 / (281) 909-SEWA

Sewa International is aiming to provide survivors with emergency supplies like food, water, shelter and medicine, along with assistance in the long run to help flood-affected Texans recover and rebuild their property.

The Houston chapter of Sewa International is now appealing to all businesses and non-profit organizations to join hands in helping Texans deal with these stressful times and offer aid in whichever manner they can. All resources will be listed in Sewa International’s help directory on their website and will be publicized throughout the community.

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Sewa International urges citizens to come forward and assist victims of hurricane Harvey

People wanting to pitch in from afar can donate to Sewa International and assist the victims affected by the storm.

You can extend assistance by donating money or registering yourself as a volunteer with Sewa International for home cleaning, and distribution of food and emergency kits.

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All donations and registrations can be made at the Sewa International website here

Sewa International volunteers can be reached at their Hot Line: (281) 909-7392 / (281) 909-SEWA


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UNICEF Calls for Action : 16 Million Children Continue to Suffer as Floods in South Asia Claim More than 1,300 Lives

According to data released by UNICEF, the unusually heavy monsoon over the last several weeks has claimed more than 1,300 lives across India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

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India army soldiers carry children rescued from flood affected villages near Thara in Banaskantha district, Gujarat, India (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki) (VOA)
  • Floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh have claimed more than 1,300 lives in the last two months
  • According to UNICEF, over 16 million children in the three countries are in urgent need of life-saving support
  • Persistent rainfall has damaged school infrastructure, apart from depriving children of safe places to stay at, and necessities like drinking water and food

New Delhi, September 4, 2017 : Hurricane Harvey created havoc in Houston in August, claiming 15 lives and displacing tens of thousands of people. The event was largely covered by national and international media alike, keeping people abreast with the latest updates. However, the floods in South Asia, which are equally devastating, are yet to receive due coverage from international media. According to data released by UNICEF, the unusually heavy monsoon over the last several weeks has claimed more than 1,300 lives across India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

In its entirety, over 45 million people have suffered the direct impact of the rains and its resulting floods.

Floods in South Asia

For over two months, incessant rains have submerged numerous villages thereby forcing vast numbers of people into evacuation centers and relief camps.

According to a UN Agency report, over 16 million children residing in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh are in dire need of life-saving support due to weeks of torrential monsoons that have given rise to ‘catastrophic’ floods in the three South Asian countries.

UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia, Jean Gough noted that millions of children have already been affected by these devastating floods as incessant rains continue to pose potential threat.  “Children have lost their homes, schools, and even friends and loved ones. There is a danger the worst could still be to come as rains continue and flood waters move south,” she added, according to a report by PTI.

According to official figures, at least 1,288 deaths have been reported since mid-August.

Gough believes the persistent rainfall and the resulting water accumulation have damaged school infrastructure among other things which will hamper children from attending classes for weeks, or even months. According to her, “Getting children back into school is absolutely critical in establishing a sense of stability for children during times of crisis and provides a sense of normality when everything else is being turned upside down”

Among other urgent needs of these children are clean drinking water, sufficient food supplies, hygiene supplies to control and combat the spread of potential diseases and safe evacuation places for the children to stay at, study and play.

ALSO READ Thousands displaced in Myanmar due to floods

Devastation from floods in India

According to a report by PTI, in the northern part of the country, over 31 million people have been affected in four states due to the extensive flooding. Out of this, 12.33 million sufferers are believed to be children.

The tally of houses damaged by the floods has reached 805,183 while 15,455 schools have been damaged, that has disrupted the education of children.

Additionally, the heavy downpour in Mumbai has already claimed five deaths due to drowning while twelve people, including two children have died due to the collapse of a building.

ALSO READ Why do buildings collapse?

Rescue operations are being undertaken in these states by their respective state governments, which include carrying out relief, recovery and rehabilitation operations.

Furthermore, the state governments have also sought multi-sectoral planning and coordination support from UNICEF in the three worst affected states. These include Bihar, Assam and Uttar Pradesh.

Devastation from floods in Bangladesh

According to Oxfam, with the rising water levels, the flooding is believed to be the worst since 1988 with nearly two-thirds of the country currently submerged under water.

More than 8 million people are reported to have been hit by the floods in Bangladesh, out of which 3 million are allegedly children. Primary and community educational institutions across the country have been terribly hit with as many as 2,292 schools reportedly damaged by the high water.

The country has also reported over 13,035 cases of water-borne diseases.

Devastation from floods in Nepal

Floods in Nepal have displaced 352,738 people from their homes, thus, affecting over 1.7 million people. The water has reportedly surfaced to dangerous levels, to escape which people are making use of makeshift rafts and elephants for rescue operations.

According to a report by PTI, damage to nearly 1,958 schools has affected the education of over 253,605 children.

Major media giants across the world are pledging their support to help combat the scale of  destruction.

In a blog post, Google Vice-President of South East Asia and India wrote, “We are committing $1 million from Google.org and Google employees to Goonj and Save the Children for their relief efforts.”

The NGO, Goonj aims to offer assistance to over 75,000 affected families across India and provide them with basic needs like food, blankets and hygiene supply while on the other hand, Save the Children is focused on setting up child-friendly public spaces for the children to have access to educational material.

Similar organizations have taken up an active role to help rebuild infrastructure for the community like roads, bridges and physical infrastructures.

What causes floods in South Asia?

Apart from the high magnitude of rainfall received this year, the floods in south Asia are believed to have been aggravated by human actions such as reckless construction on floodplains and in the coastal areas, waterways clogged by garbage and a faulty drainage system

According to a report published by VOA, experts have pointed out the inefficiency of the governments of the three countries and have said that is has become increasingly evident that the South Asian governments were unprepared for the annual monsoon showers.

However, disaster management officials also assert that it will be unfair to criticize the governments in view of the magnitude of the floods this year.


 

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Megh Rahat: Operation Underway as Floods and Landslides affect Assam

At least 13,000 people are affected by the recent floods and landslides

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Flood in Assam. VOANEWS
  • At least 13,000 people have been affected in Assam
  • Rescue operation titled “Megh Rahat” underway
  • Landslides in the hilly Dima Hasao district snapped rail link to Barak Valley

Assam, June 04, 2017: At least 13,000 people in Assam have been affected by flood, officials said on Sunday. Also, landslides triggered by incessant rain disrupted rail connectivity to the state’s Barak Valley region.

Assam State Disaster Management Authority officials said at least 13,000 people have been affected due to the year’s first wave of floods in 28 villages in Lakhimpur, Jorhat and Biswanath districts, in the past 24 hours.

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Besides, landslides in the hilly Dima Hasao district snapped rail link to Barak Valley. The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) had to cancel a passenger train to Silchar from Lumding on Saturday after landslides affected the hill section.

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The water level in Brahmaputra river has indicated an increasing trend and is flowing above the danger level in Nimatighat, prompting the officials to suspend ferry services to the island district of Majuli from Jorhat.

The Assam government has already instructed the officials in flood-prone districts to arrange relief and rescue materials in case of emergency situations.

The army, along with the civil administration, also carried out a joint exercise on flood rescue titled “Megh Rahat” in Dharamtul area in Morigaon district.

The exercise aimed to ensure collective mutual benefit of all participants, who ranged from the army and State Disaster Rescue Force (SDRF) personnel to local population including school children. (IANS)

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10 persons killed in Sri Lanka when 300-feet-high garbage Dump collapsed onto their Homes

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Garbage dump (representational Image), Wikimedia

Colombo, April 15, 2017: At least 10 persons, including four children, were killed after a garbage dump collapsed onto their homes outside the Sri Lankan capital.

The 300-feet-high pile in Meethotamulla had shifted after floods and a fire, and subsequently collapsed on Friday evening, Xinhua news agency reported.

Over 60 houses were damaged with some witnesses saying more than 100 homes were destroyed.

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A rescue operation continued overnight following fears many people were buried in the incident.

Several others were admitted to hospital for treatment and over 180 people have been displaced, officials said.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena instructed the Disaster Management Centre to provide assistance to the affected families.

The residents of the area have been protesting over the past several months urging the authorities to move the garbage to another location. (IANS)