Londoners call for help for loved ones affected by India floods

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.

There are 900 families from Kerala in London, Ont., along with 800 students at Western and Fanshawe

Jojjy Cheeran and Akshitha Rao live in London and have family and relatives in Kerala, India. They are urging Canadians to help in the efforts to aid victims of the floods. (Tania Dahiroc/CBC)

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.

Londoners affected 

London is home to about 900 families who are from Kerala, along with 800 students who are studying at Western University and Fanshawe College.

A stranded woman gestures towards her house as she asks for more essential supplies from a volunteer in a flooded area in Chengannur in the southern state of Kerala, India, Sunday, Aug.19, 2018. Some 800,000 people have been displaced and over 350 have died in the worst flooding in a century. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi) (Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press)

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.

Ariel view of the flooded Kochi, Kerala state, India on August 17. (Prakash Elamakkara/EPA-EFE)

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.