It all started with a phone call. An employee of the N C John & Sons Company received an SOS message from someone marooned by the flash floods in the Kuttanad region of Kerala. The caller was asking for drinking water.
The employees bought up bottles of drinking water and proceeded to the relief camp. They are still working among the flood victims. Everyone from the company's directors to the employees have been providing succour to the displaced people and making sure that they did not starve on Onam.
Their colleagues in other units supported the efforts by procuring food and other essentials and transporting it to the company's office.
Also read: Kerala floods | Before and After
The company has assumed the mission to work until the Kuttanad region recovers from the flood and the subsequent displacement, company directors N C J John, N C J Rajan, John Chacko, Alex Joseph, John John Naroth, Jacob Joseph, Francis Job and Vineesh Chandy said.
The trained team
“I am proud of my staff,” said John John Naroth. “The 35-member emergency response team played a big role in rescue and rehabilitation in the area. The hard work started on August 17 is still continuing.”
The company’s emergency response team was prepared to deal with situations like this. The members of the team drew upon their training to enhance the scope of their relief operations. As many as six teams were on the field to coordinate rescue and relief. Human resources team head Sreekanth coordinated the efforts.
The directors visited various camps during the days of the crisis. At least 10 vehicles belonging to the company were put to use on the rescue and relief front.
The company directors and employees were faced with heartbreaking situations. Some of the affected people were ruing the loss of a life's work. Yet some others were happy that their lives were saved.
Children were wailing. The mothers were worried about the next meal. The people were trying to console each other even as they lost everything.
The company management had no second thoughts. They knew it was the time to act. “Nothing can repay what this place has given to support the visions of N C John,” said John John. “Still we had to do our bit.”
The management said that none of the employees expected to be paid for the extra hours they put in. “In fact, the working employees stayed back to make up for the work of those who were out on relief duty,” factory manager K V Saju said.
Swimming against the tide
The company distributed relief materials worth Rs 8 lakh to camps across the Alappuzha district in the first days of the flooding. Procurement of supplies was not easy. Most of the supermarket shelves had been wiped clean by people who anticipated a supply crunch.
The company’s management sent distress calls to its units in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu. Their colleagues rose to the occasion. Two container loads of supplies reached Alappuzha in no time.
The company supplied the materials in the bigger camps in the first two days. Then they focused on the smaller camps scattered across the district. Camps with hardly 50 people were mostly out of the radar of volunteers, as the company representatives found out.
They supplied everything from food grains, baby food, clothes and mats. They then turned their focus to camps in remote areas.
The teams have turned from rescue to rehabilitation. The volunteers report for duty at 6 am. They hope that their home state has a speedy recovery.
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