Team Bond Safari – the unsung heroes during Kerala Floods

Team Bond Safari ready for the mission

While Kerala has been going through the worst time in its history following the unprecedented rain and flood, lots of people from different walks of life have come forward to take the responsibility of the rescue operations. ‘Bond Safari’ of Thiruvananthapuram was such unsung heroes, who took part in the rescue operations especially in the Chengannur area. Tourism News Live got an opportunity to catch up with Jackson Peter, Managing Partner of Bond Safari, a group of professional scuba divers in Kovalam who are helping people to familiarize with under water activities, regarding their rescue operations in the flood affected areas of the state. Excerpts from the interview…

“All these started on 15th August, when Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, faced an unexpected flood, following incessant rains,” said Jackson, while interacting with Manoj Attingal of TNL.

“I got a call from the Deputy Collector of Thiruvananthapuram, seeking our assistance in the flood affected areas of the city. We could mobilize some boats from Poovar and helped the people who were struck in different parts of the city to reach safer places,” he added.

Jackson with the rescue team of fishermen

When the situation in Chengannur and the surrounding areas had become worse, Bond safari team decided to do their best at the ground zero. They contacted Rahul, Managing Director of KTDC, and expressed their willingness to participate in the rescue operations. Rahul, after contacting the Revenue Divisional Officer in Adoor, who was in charge of the rescue operations in the city, and directed Jackson and his team of divers to Adoor.

“When we have reached there, the situation was very bad. It was more than what we had expected. In fact, I have never witnessed such a disastrous situation in my life. However, we could quickly adopt to the situation as sinking in to water was part of our daily activities,” said Jackson.

The rescue team of Bond Safari had12 professional scuba divers, who were split in to two-three member groups to handle the operations. “We mainly tried to rescue people who were stranded in isolated areas, where the big rescue boats could not reach,” he said.

Coordination meeting with NDRF team

“When the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team came, their small trucks could not wade through the flooded streets. We have arranged torres trucks to ship their materials to their accommodations. Along with my partner Suraj Khan, I stayed with the NDRF and the fishermen rescue team to coordinate the activities,” added Jackson.

The team’s focus in the beginning was in places like, Pathanamthitta, Panthalam, Arattupuzha, Kozhencheri, Thiruvalla and Niranam. Later, Jackson and his team were moved to Chengannur the next day where the situation was much worse. “With the help of the NDRF and fishermen, we could rescue around 300 people from the flood affected areas and could supply food materials to more than 500 people until 19th August,” added Jackson.

Relief aids collected for distribution

Once the rescue operations have come to an end, Bond safari team turned their focus to the collection and distribution of relief aids. ‘Beloved,’ an initiative by Bond Safari and like-minded institutions, has started collecting relief aids. Planet Ocean Foundation, Cool Divers, Laundry Labs, Cross Link IT Solutions, Vava Films, Meru Motion Pictures, Weavers Village and Street Food are the institutions in the group ‘Beloved’. The relief aids collected have been delivered to the Adoor camp for distribution. Apart from the relief camps, they have provided materials to the needy people, who have been isolated in the flooded water.

“We should learn from each disaster. When Okhi storm came, we were alert for some time; then forgot everything. We should have a proper disaster management system. Disaster management should not be like sitting in room and issuing advisories. People should be trained to work in the field. During peace time, we should create awareness among people, how to handle an unpredicted situation. I would suggest, each Panchayath and Municipality to have at least 5 trained volunteers to carry out rescue operations in any case of emergency,” said Jackson, while commenting on the Disaster Management capability of the state.