In September 2014, the Jammu and Kashmir region witnessed the strongest and deadliest flood in 60 years. Affecting a staggering 2600 villages, the surging waters killed more than 280 people and left over 600,000 people homeless and distressed. Worst hit among those stranded in the disaster were children, women and older people. In Kashmir alone, 390 villages were completely submerged, leaving Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag and Kulgam districts completely cut off. Bandipur, Ganderbal, Srinagar, Reasi, Rajouri, Poonch and Jammu districts were inundated.
The situation worsened when several hospitals were affected and ran out of life-saving drugs. Children and patients were in grip of panic, as Kashmir valley was on a severe healthcare crisis. Roads, railways, communication networks – all were left in devastating condition, making any kind of aid or assistance impracticable to reach. The problems of the affected people seemed to be only mounting with every passing day. Displaced and rescued families lived in tents braving the chill. Short on resources and with little hope of returning home, these uprooted families remained desperate for help.
After joining hands for emergency rescue with the Indian Army, governmental and non-governmental organizations, Smile Foundation deployed its Disaster Response Team on the ground. The needs of the affected people were assessed and relief operations started immediately.
Relief Operations Phase I
The team started with the relief efforts in RS Pora, Surya Chak and Malke Chak. As few houses were ruined completely in Surya Chak and Malke Chak, people were living in relief camps provided by civil society organizations. The flood has swept away the normalcy of human life there and immediate need of basic food items, milk, school bags, books etc were observed. The team worked towards arranging logistic as listed with the help of villagers and representatives of other civil society organizations. Milk powder, biscuits, bottled water, school bags, copies and pens were distributed in these villages.
In Kashmir, the team started with relief material distribution in Kulgam, Anantnag, Pulwama and Badgam areas, where the marks of devastation were quite visible. Later, they carried out their relief operations in Lasjan, Soitang and Bandipore. Villages like Shahgund, Gulshan Muhallah, Gondi Boon and Kaniyari were badly affected. The team distributed milk powder, biscuits, water bottle, chlorine tables and ORS etc. among the villagers. In addition to these, Smile Foundation provided the bare minimum woolen and blankets to the flood affected families to help them endure the stark winters.
Relief Operations Phase II
Into its second phase of relief operations, the Smile Foundation team on ground focused on providing comprehensive healthcare to the flood victims.
The number of hospitals affected in the floods is huge, causing a severe healthcare crisis. To address the healthcare needs of the people, a series of Smile Health Camps are being organized across the affected villages, seven of which have already been conducted at seven locations, namely – Lasjan, Budgam district; Ghati Shalimar Gawmarg and Moti Mohalla Kalan, Srinagar district; Nowgam Bala Mohalla, Bandipora district; Gulzarpora, Pulwama district; Chattabal, Kulgam district and Matipora Pattan, Baramulla district.
With doctors, pharmacists and volunteers joining efforts to make the health camps a success, the second phase of operations has been quite effective in benefitting thousands of villagers in Jammu and Kashmir. Each health camp offered diagnostic, counselling, curative and referral services.
5000 children and families benefitted from the relief distribution
115 health camps were conducted, benefitting over 10,000 people