Chennai floods: When reel heroes became real heroes

Chennai, Dec 5 (IANS) With Tamil Nadu reeling under the worst floods to hit the state in a century and with rescue operations getting underway, actors Siddharth and RJ Balaji, popular among Tamil audiences, turned out to help the people.

Siddharth was one of the victims of the rains. His house in the city was submerged, but that didn’t stop him from stepping out and helping those in need.

Along with Balaji, who is also a popular radio jockey, the “Rang De Basanti” star formed teams to help stranded people in different parts of the city.

People came forward and lent their cars which were used to rescue people from the flooded areas.

Siddharth was soon joined by actors Vishnu Vishal, Udhayanidhi Stalin, Karthi, Khushbu Sundar and Vishal Krishna Reddy. Popular multiplexes like SPI Cinemas and AGS Cinemas opened their doors to offer shelter.

The two-member team grew bigger with the support of many volunteers, mostly from the common people.

“It was heartening to see Siddharth and Balaji come out and help people. We were touched by their gesture and thus wanted to help too,” Ram Kumar, who joined Siddharth and his team of volunteers, told IANS.

The teams went around the city collecting food packets, 50 to 100 per batch, and other essentials and getting them delivered to people.

Those who couldn’t come out and volunteer were requested to send donations to Chennai Micro Fund trust, which was used to carry out relief work.

Social media played a pivotal role in this movement, helping the city to get back on its feet.

Rescue and relief operations were carried out with the help of Twitter. Since most telecommunication networks took a hit due to the heavy downpour, people used the social media platform to reach out to one another.

From updating people about the situation on the ground to tracking somebody’s whereabouts with the website chennairains.org collating all information, social media played a big role.

Support also came from maestro Ilayaraja who, on learning that the Little Flower Convent catering to visually challenged, deaf and mute children was under four feet of water, immediately paid them a visit.

The 72-year-old insisted on meeting the children, despite being warned of the high water level.

With life yet to return to normal in the state, these stars continue to work round-the-clock doing their bit to help those in need.

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