Salvation Army Rebuilds Destroyed Villages in West India in Aftermath of Floods

Three months after a super-sized cyclonic storm ravaged West India, the Salvation Army continues to offer relief at the frontline to help survivors recover their daily lives in the state of Gujarat.

According to the Salvation Army's latest update of the flood situation in India, the organization identified that galvanized roofing sheets are the most pressing need in the aftermath of the flood, following an extensive consultation with the most affected communities in Gujarat.

During an 18-hour downpour on July 26 – which saw a world record 944 mm (37 inches) of rain fall on Mumbai in the neighboring state of Maharashtra – more than 600 villages in Gujarat were isolated by rising flood waters and thousands of homes were lost, the Salvation Army stated in a report in late September.

A long-term recovery relief program in west India was therefore launched through a donation of $250,000 from the Salvation Army in Southern America, whose own communities have witnessed extensive damage this year from hurricanes.

The program aims to rebuild 400 rural homes in Gujarat as well as replacing home furnishings to 2,000 families in the slum areas of Mumbai.

Till now, there have not been sufficient funds to rebuild the houses entirely; the Salvation Army offers the displaced families some roofing sheets that are supported by strong poles, which can at least protect them from daytime heat, nighttime cold and the rain, according to the latest update.

The Salvation Army said that the people would be able gradually to rebuild their houses using traditional materials and techniques.

"I was impressed that the villagers themselves participated in identifying the neediest beneficiaries. All homes were assessed and roofing sheets were distributed up to a maximum of 20 per household," stated Captain Elizabeth Hayward, International Emergency Services Field Operations and Training Officer, after visiting the Gujarat area to review the ongoing relief work.

"Families who did not require their full allocation chose to make spare sheeting available to others. Because of this, an extra 100 families were included and 600 families helped," she added.

According to the Salvation Army, local officials in the city of Uharsanda, Gujarat, complimented the Salvationists for assisting the 50 families of their village whose homes were destroyed in the disastrous floods of July. In the lower parts of the village, the water level rose more than 2.5 meters.

One of the officials, who is a Hindu, recalled that Salvationists living in the village, used their hall – situated on an area of higher ground – to shelter and feed 150 of the most vulnerable and needy people for four days.

He expressed gratitude to the Salvation Army for continuing that spirit of care and concern for the people of their community without regard to caste or creed.

Some Christians in the village had also shared food from their own stores with the poorest people, many of whom were the most vulnerable such as the elderly, the official added.

In addition to the housing repair program in Gujarat, relief work continues in the neighboring state of Maharashtra, the Salvation Army reported. Two thousand families in the Mumbai area who lost their home contents in the flood are receiving recovery packages containing bedding, cooking utensils, water carriers, food vessels and cloth for children’s school uniforms.