Baptists Rush to Rescue Victims of India's Worst Floods in Generations

Volunteers rescue stranded people from a flooded area in Chengannur in the southern state of Kerala, India, Sunday, Aug.19, 2018. Some 800,000 people have been displaced and over 350 have died in the worst flooding in a century. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

India’s state of Kerala and the surrounding states are suffering through the region’s worst flooding in generations. Hundreds have been left dead and around a million have been forced to flee to refugee camps as local authorities struggle to keep pace with the growing need. Heeding the call for help, the Baptist Global Response (BGR), a cooperative partner with the Southern Baptist Convention, has been busy providing aid and rescuing stranded flood victims.

On August 8, during the height of monsoon season, southern India was hit by unusually devastating downpours. The abnormal amount of rain has resulted in what is being called the worst flood in over a century for the area. Thankfully, the rains have subsided and rescue operations are beginning to focus on providing relief to those stranded by the flood. BGR is one of the groups on the front lines serving their neighbors.

Speaking to Baptist Press, BGR area director Tim Patterson talked about the difficulties and challenges faced by his team as they attempt to help in the rescue and aid efforts: “The roads and bridges there have been washed away, and the loss of electricity, communication and transportation have complicated rescue and relief efforts,” he said. “For the first time in the history, all gates for the state’s 37 reservoirs have been opened to release excess water.”

A Fox News story of one family’s suffering provides insight into the conditions BGR is facing and the needs they are trying to meet:

“There was sludge and muck nearly up to my knee,” a dismayed Abdullah Aliyar said Tuesday. The 65-year-old, who has been living with his family at a relief camp for more than a week, returned briefly to his nearby home Monday to find it uninhabitable and without drinking water or electricity.

For now, the family of five will remain at Union Christian College, a sprawling campus on high ground just outside Kochi. It is one of more than 3,000 relief camps created amid the havoc of the floods.

Helping fill out the picture of devastation, Baptist Press reports, “In some places in Kerala, floodwaters rose to as much as nine feet high, submerging houses and stranding people on rooftops. Thousands are still awaiting rescue.”

Jesus said that the second greatest command is to love our neighbors. Baptists around the world are faithfully obeying that command even as broader society increasingly rejects their beliefs.

To provide aid and for further information visit BGR’s website.