November 2022


A lesson in resilience & hope from the Assam Floods

“This flood drastically changed the lives there. Families got separated; they did not have food, hygiene or any moral support. Their homes, crops and cattle were all destroyed. The entire region was drowned in water and that made the relief work very difficult for us. There was no mode to communicate and commute. The flood was so massive that no one could say that there was a lush green village residing there because all that remained was the water.” What Yogesh, one of the volunteers working with Smile’s disaster response team, is recounting is the havoc created by the floods that hit Assam this year.

Assam, along with Meghalya, is one of the North Eastern states that receive the highest rainfall during the monsoon season across the country. Over the last decade, floods and landslides caused by the excessive rainfall have been continuously ravaging the state. This has taken a heavy toll on lives, livelihoods, infrastructure, wild life and drained a lot of the state’s major resources. In 2022 however, the havoc started earlier when flash floods were brought on by pre-monsoon showers.

The floods and landslides affected over 47 lakh people across 4,462 villages in 30 districts of Assam from May to July. Nearly 23 lakh people were displaced and 192 were reported dead. Railways, roads, and bridges were damaged due to landslides. Entire villages were submerged. Some villages were completely cut-off from the mainland, making the relief operations extremely difficult. Like in every disaster, vulnerable groups including women, children and elders were the worst affected.

But despite all the odds, the people of Assam stood strong and became the biggest motivation for our on-ground disaster response team to keep working hard.

“We were in Mori Gaon, which was one of the worst affected regions due to the floods in Assam. The village was facing one of its most unfortunate times with the people there struggling every moment. The experience was quite intimidating. But looking at the faces of the survivors, we learned to keep hope and faith. The older people there were keenly waiting for the situation to settle. There was patience, acceptance and hope that most of us would lose in a situation like this.

The thing I noticed and really admired was how these people living in the villages are so much more prepared to face an adverse situation like this compared to us, who have always led a comfortable life in cities. Floods in rural Assam have become quite frequent and people are mentally and physically prepared for the situation. Their resilience and faith was what kept them and us going.”

Smile Foundation’s disaster response team was on the ground since day one, assessing the need and distributing relief material in the worst affected parts of Assam. The team worked round the clock with a dedicated group of local volunteers, taking timely help to people who needed it the most. Distribution points were set up and the most immediate needs of dry ration, hygiene and sanitation kits, medicines and other essential items were met. More than 10,00,000 meals were provided in the form of dry ration kits to the affected families, along with over 50,000 hygiene, sanitation and essentials kits.

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