Chennai rains – startups to the rescue

The Indian news channels have been swamping with images of flooded streets of the Chennai city and news of how much loss the rains have been causing. Numbers say that the drenching rains in Chennai have disrupted daily life, left many people stranded and the death toll is nearing 200. Waterlogging has been reported in most of the areas and the meteorological department has stated that the next 48 hours will be critical.

#ChennaiRains have created a turmoil in the whole nation. While the whole country is trying to contact their loved ones in the city of Chennai, and the Government is sending out armed rescue forces to that city, startups have not been just sitting and watching it all. Apart from just tweeting about the updates, the startups from all over the nation rose to help those in need.

The taxi service provider Ola has moved ahead in providing ‘safety zones’ – to provide assistance and refuge. Equipped with relief supplies and first aid, this service is provided in Satyanarayana Bhavan in Waltax Road, and Usharani marriage hall in Ambattur. Ola competitor, Uber, has announced temporary free rides in the city.

Paytm has promised to facilitate a Rs 30 recharge instantly, free of cost, to ensure phone connectivity to have a contact with near ones in the city. “If you would like to recharge anyone’s mobile number so that they can remain connected during this tough time, please call us at 18001030033 and share the mobile number. We will recharge it with Rs.30 worth of talk-time, free of cost,” says Paytm’s official blog.

This is what we saw Paytm tweeting,” Stay Safe Chennai! Call on 18001030033, recharge your friend’s phone for free http://p-y.tm/4Egc  #ChennaiFloods

However, Paytm has made it clear that this offer is only valid for Chennai numbers and can be availed only once per number. The company has also stated that it will take 2 hours to process requests and in case the operator is having connectivity issues in rain flooded city, then there may be a delay in the processing as well.

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Practo, the healthcare discovery platform is calling doctors listed on their platform to see if they are available to offer a helping hand to those affected due to the calamity. The company has created a Google document and is crowdsourcing data, and validating doctors before it is open for public.

“We are filtering out general physicians, since they will be first priority,” said a spokesperson of the company, who is updating the document every hour, after validating their credentials.

Telecom operators also jumped did their bit to help those affected by the rains by offering a talk time credit to their users.

After mobiles, doctors and transport, Zomato came up with an offer to match every purchase with a meal for flood victims in Chennai. Zomato is also working with NGOs who are actively on a troll in Chennai to deliver the food. Their logistics partners (Chennai Volunteers, Robinhood Army and Delhivery) are collecting the meals from relay points set up for the purpose to distribute to those affected.

“Till 5.00 pm today, people had bought over 20,000 meals, so with Zomato’s contribution we are at over 40,000 meals. We are hoping to get to 100,000 meals,” said a spokesperson. CEO Deepinder Goyal tweeted “15,000 meals bought by our users for #Chennai. Zomato adds to it to make it 30,000. Let’s all help get to 100k – we can do this.”And they did reach 55k and paused to ensure they are not choking the restaurants providing the meals.

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Home services provider Housejoy offered electrical check-ups, plumbing services, electronic checkups etc. for free in the worst affected areas of Madipakkam, Velachery, Pallikaranai, Medavakkam, Adyar, Kotturpuram and Valasaravakkam.

Apart from ensuring the safety of their own employees, the employees of Freshdesk volunteered to help those in need in their localities by collecting food, clothing and medicines, and the startup also circulated the addresses of employees (with access to a dry house, power and food) who can take in fellow colleagues.

Lookup, the startup app that lets you chat with local stores to get things done with a simple message, has tied up with Bhumi – an independent youth NGO. This partnership is now allowing users who want to help out the victims of the Chennai floods use their services and help the people stuck in in the form of distributing clothes, medicines and other essential materials. You will need to download the Lookup app and initiate a chat with Bhumi regarding what you want to donate. You can then share your pick up location which will let you donate things from your home itself.

Zippr built a system to tag and find relief centres:  .

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Twitter was bussing with so much activity that the response was faster than any other media. A few good samaritans even opened up their houses and lot of them offered their support in the kindest way possible. People like these definitely restore your faith in humanity!

Salute to all those who have taken a step forward to help all the Chennai dwelling citizens. Every hand counts, and soon with all the prayers and help being offered, we all shall be able to overcome the mighty rains and its effects. Let’s all do our bit to those who are in need of a help today.

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