Londoners call for help for loved ones affected by India floods
There are 900 families from Kerala in London, Ont., along with 800 students at Western and Fanshawe
London is home to hundreds of families and students who are from southern India's Kerala state, where flooding has killed more than 350 people and displaced 800,000 others.
Many have not been able to connect with their families to see if they are safe, including Aksitha Roa, a Fanshawe College student who is studying international business. Her parents and younger brother live in an area impacted by heavy rains and flooding.
"I'm really nervous because I haven't heard about my family," she said. "I don't know whether they are in a rescue camp or if they are in my house. I don't know anything."
Roa is especially concerned for her younger brother who can't walk without assistance and has a very hard time in crowded areas. She said power outages have left her disconnected from her family.
"I tried to contact many of my friends who live near my parents, but no one is responding since there is no electricity because of the flood," she said.
London is home to about 900 families who are from Kerala, along with 800 students who are studying at Western University and Fanshawe College.
The local Malayali community is now considering ways they can help those affected by the natural disaster.
"[The community] is in close contact with each other. They are trying to think of the options and ways they can help," said Jojjy Cheeran, who has lived in London for seven years.
An online petition was started, calling for the federal government to provide help.
"For me, it's not about money, I just want Kerala's safety," said Roa. "If there is anything that could help for the safety of my country, my state, I would go with that."
Save a Family Plan is a London, Ont.-based non-profit organization that connects people with families in India to support them financially. They have an office in Kerala that has been affected by the floods.
"We know that two of the staff members there have lost their houses," said Marisa Thorburn, executive director.
"They are just trying to deal with the crisis at hand, so all of the programs have stopped for the moment while they've taken in a thousand people and trying to figure out how to shelter them until the waters recede."
The group has set up a natural disaster fund to support victims of the floods.
Since the downpours started on Aug. 8, floods and landslides have caused homes and bridges to collapse across the state.
India Meteorological Department officials said sustained low-pressure conditions over India's western coast this year have caused the flooding. Environmental Scientists have said climate change and deforestation were the main causes of an increase in rainfall in Kerala.