Year 2015 saw some unprecedented weather patterns in the whole world and Chennai in India and Cumbria in the UK experienced some worst floods due to this. My intention of writing this blog is to compare and contrast the floods which happened at the same time in 2 different parts of the world. Did India being a developing country and UK being a developed country make any difference? Let’s find out
When –The floods happened in Nov 2015 –Dec 2015. UK was hit by storm Desmond which caused some unprecedented flooding.
How Much -The amount of rainfall received was frightening and explains the scale of the devastation caused by these floods. On 1st of Dec 2015- Chennai received approximately 272 mm of rainfall in 12 hours according to Skymet data. Cumbria had received 350mm of rainfall in 24 hours over the weekend of 5th and 6th Dec.
Death Toll – Chennai had approximately 300 deaths due to the floods and in Cumbria 3 deaths.
Chennai has a population of more than 4.5 million people and approximately 25 lakh homes were affected from the floods. In Cumbria 45000 homes were affected because of the floods.
How did Chennai Cope?
The TN government showed a poor and delayed response to the floods, even the national news channels did not have any coverage of the flood situation until Twitter reacted furiously. As the country’s citizens are used to not depending on the state machinery, Chennaites themselves took up the task of rescuing people and rebuilding Chennai during the floods. The people of Chennai used social media to launch a massive recuse and relief effort which helped to save many lives. The Chief Minister’s Public relief fund received a donation of 195 crores. The TN government requested the central government a whopping 25000 crores for the restoration process. The central government responded with a 1940 crore relief money. Lack of leadership became very evident as the T.N Chief Minister Jayalalitha was nowhere to be seen and there was no structure on how the relief money will be used and spent. Local Politicians had interferred with common people providing relief materials and were more interested in promoting J.Jayalalitha. This had caused a lot of disappointment and anger amongst people. I guess this is not surprising as the sole aim of Indian politicians seem to be scoring points with their vote bank in any circumstance. Inspite of a major calamity like this the government has still not outlined any future plans on how to prevent or respond to a situation like this.
How did Cumbria cope?
In Cumbria an effective state machinery took over the job of rescue efforts by deploying all its services including the army. The government worked out an evacuation and rescue plan to save people who were caught in the floods. Residents of flooded homes were provided alternate accommodation along with other basic needs. Every household which was affected by the floods was given 5000 Pounds for recovery. In the UK most homes have home insurance. Mr Cameron led from the start by first seeking assurance from the insurance companies that there won’t be any problems in insurance pay outs. Next he visited the flood-hit areas on foot and then announced that there will be a major review on the flood defences. The Cumbria community foundation launched the Cumbria flood appeal and had managed to generate 5 million pounds. David Cameron had also announced 40 million pounds to repair and improve flood defences.
The current situation is that Chennai is recovering by itself, unfortunately most people don’t have home insurance unlike people in the UK, which means they have to rebuild their lives by themselves. There have been a lot of heroic efforts during the floods and it has shown the true nature of Chennaites and human beings in general.
People caught up in natural disasters in any part of the world have ways of coping and this was quite evident in both Chennai and Cumbria. Chennai coped itself due to a collective public effort and Cumbria coped due to a systematic response from the government. There are a lot of lessons to be learnt for both Cumbria and Chennai and hopefully we will be prepared for future natural disasters like this.