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INDIA: Salesians respond after devastating cyclone

The Don Bosco Emergency Relief Team rescues 150 youth and Salesian missionaries

Emergency response team rescues 150 youth and Salesian missionaries


(MissionNewswire) The Don Bosco Emergency Relief Team quickly responded in the wake of the devastating cyclonic storm “Michaung” that impacted Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The storm left a trail of destruction across the state, disrupting the lives of thousands, submerging entire neighborhoods and claiming the homes of countless families.

The northern part of Chennai, where there are five Salesian centers, bore the brunt of Michaung’s fury. The centers include orphanages, senior homes, schools and youth centers. The relentless downpour marked the highest rainfall in the last 47 years. This created unprecedented challenges for relief efforts by the government and other organizations.

Tragically, the floods claimed the life of 19-year-old Santhosh Kumar, who was washed away by the unexpected currents of the Coouam River. Kumar had been residing in a Salesian house and working in a private workshop.

An emergency response team rescued 150 youth and Salesian missionaries who were marooned by the floodwaters, relocating them to safety in other Salesian houses at St. Bede’s Higher Secondary School and the Salesian Institute of Graphic Arts. Operating under risky conditions, the team also organized the preparation and distribution of cooked food and drinking water to more than 1,500 people who were stranded by the floodwaters. SURABI, the local Salesian development office, took charge of broader relief and rehabilitation efforts, helping 3,000 flood-affected families.

Father John Alexander, the vice provincial who coordinated the province’s emergency and relief efforts, said, “I witnessed firsthand the sacrificing and daring spirit of Salesians and young volunteers who risked their lives to rescue the people in crisis. They worked day and night to supply food to areas surrounded by neck-deep water. The resilience and generosity of people in these critical conditions are truly amazing.”

Recognizing the urgent need for medical assistance, the Past Pupil Association of Don Bosco School at Egmore organized free medical camps in the flood-affected areas. These camps provided general health check-ups, consultations with doctors and free basic medicines. This effort offered a lifeline to those grappling with health issues in the aftermath of the disaster.

As SURABI assessed the extensive damage and disruption to the livelihoods of flood-affected families, Salesian initiated reconstruction and rehabilitation projects to help communities rebuild. A Salesian noted, “Despite the grim circumstances and the profound challenges posed by Michaung, the Salesian community’s response stands as a testament to the strength of human spirit and the unwavering commitment to restoring hope in the face of adversity. The rebuilding process may be long and arduous, but there is a resilient and united front working toward the restoration of normalcy and the rebuilding of lives in the aftermath of this natural calamity.”



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