Monsoon rains in the Indian state of Orissa gave rise to crisis level flooding on September 9, inundating 19 districts and 3,000 villages that are home to more than 2 million people. The district of Kendrapara was hardest hit, with more than 100 villages marooned, roads, bridges and communication lines washed away, and many areas completely cut off by water.
Less than 48 hours after the onset of flooding, the AmeriCares India team was the first to arrive in Kendrapara, mobilizing a medical unit that treated more than 1,500 patients from September 12-16. Relief workers, Dr. Swati Jha, Chandrakant Deshpande and Anusha Ravishankar entered the district amid perilous conditions, forging through floodwaters with as many pre-positioned medical supplies as they could carry until they reached the worst-affected interior areas.
The team worked closely with local NGOs, press, district government officials and the state disaster relief force to provide free medical aid, consultation, and supplies to more than 150 patients a day over the 5-day period. To help keep survivors healthy with access to uncontaminated water, the team distributed nutritional supplements and water purification tablets.
“Almost all of the children we treated had fungal infections and half of them also had chickenpox,” said Anusha Ravishankar. “Many were suffering with cold, coughs and fever. We gave all of them free medicines along with nutritional supplements to improve their general health.”
Due to the overwhelming needs of patients in the district, the stock of supplies was exhausted quickly. Despite dire circumstances – most local supplies were destroyed by flooding and cell phone coverage was virtually non-existent — the team succeeded in procuring enough supplies to meet the tremendous demand.
To ensure that survivors have access to continued medical care, the AmeriCares India team proactively reached out to other NGOs, who sent doctors and personnel to join AmeriCares India’s ongoing effort. Following the initial relief efforts, a second team from AmeriCares India (Dr. Shital Raval-Patel, Chandrakant Deshpande and Nilesh Sawardekar) landed in Orissa with additional medicines and relief supplies.
AmeriCares India currently serves 21 states across India and has reached more than 10 million people through 55 partner organizations.