As heavens opened up over Mumbai, its residents too opened their homes and hearts to strangers, offering assistance to those stranded in the devastating rains and floods that brought the megapolis to its knees.
As heavens opened up over Mumbai, its residents too opened their homes and hearts to strangers, offering assistance to those stranded in the devastating rains and floods that brought the megapolis to its knees. With the unabated fury of the rains — along with an imminent ‘high tide’ — signalling that weather conditions were turning from bad to worse, good samaritans came out on the streets and the virtual world, to help and comfort their stranded brethren — from offering food and shelter to helping them find the quickest mode of available transport for the journey back home. This was a much-needed gesture in the backdrop of the crumbling infrastructure of the megapolis which gave in on every front, be it roads, or the suburban train network that ferries over 65 lakh people daily. The desire to reach out to those in need was reflected in many acts across the city, where people were seen helping total strangers face the rain fury, displaying a sense of kinship and empathy that went far beyond the simple connotations of the storied “Mumbai spirit”. The hashtag “#rainhosts” started trending on micro- blogging site Twitter and there were scores of others using other platforms like Facebook with similar offers. South Mumbai resident Mehul Ved began putting together a spreadsheet of those offering help at 1:45 pm and had over 2,000 entries by 8:25 pm, along with addresses and other details. The effort was visible on the streets as well, probably with as much force, just to ensure that none of the over 1.5 crore people effort hungry. Religious institutions too were relentless in their effort to reach out to the stranded, with gurudwaras, churches and the Ganpati mandals reaching out to those in need.
The GSB Mandal at Matunga was among the first to make deft use of the popular chatting app WhatsApp to offer help. It was in fact on WhatsApp that a veritable flood of messages of offers to help started circulating. A list of help centres being circulated included civic administration-owned facilities, like Kalidas hall in Mulund, and a Sports Complex in Andheri.
The city police, with an active presence on Twitter, turned their ‘100’ emergency number into a facility where citizens could reach out for help and also reached out to those who used the micro-blogging site. Today’s happenings brought back harrowing memories of the deluge in July 2005 when many parts of Mumbai remained water-logged for days after incessant rains. Over 1,000 people were killed in that rain fury. The indomitable Mumbaikars had also ensured help to affected commuters after the July 7, 2006 terror bombings on the suburban train network.