| 19 Jun 2024
Big FM Chennai and Bengaluru go all out to help flood victims

MUMBAI: U K reinsurance broker Aon Benfield’s report on the Chennai floods called it the most expensive disaster of 2015 economically The fact is that it is a bigger disaster for the ones who lost it all to the rains that flooded the city. 400 lives were lost and many were left homeless, hungry and shattered. But, what emerged as a silver lining during this disastrous period were the helping hands. Everyone came out of their homes to help Chennai in every way possible, be they celebrities or the common man. Even the ones left with no homes went ahead to help a fellow human who needed it. Amidst all this, there was also a radio station that went all out to help the people of Chennai in spite of facing a lot of difficulties themselves - Big FM.

Big FM turned its radio station into a communications centre to reach out to ones in need and the ones willing to help. They also went on to become the bridge between the NGOs and volunteers to reach out to more people in need of help. They started airing out verified numbers through their station to everyone in Chennai, so, they could get help at the earliest. The station also gave out minute-to-minute information on areas that were safe to move into, and the ones that were still unsafe.

Explaining the situation in Chennai RJ Miruthula said, “There were two floods in Chennai. The first did not hit the upper class people. It hit the ones staying next to the rivers and slums. The second flood washed out the entire city. People were sleeping when their house started filling with water. There was water till the second floor of everyone’s buildings. There were people who died because they could not make their way up to the terrace. We had to do something about this.”

That is when Big FM started reaching out to the people. They started collecting old clothes, food packets, water, sanitary pads, diapers for kids, and various other things that would give the flood victims some relief. They also started setting up medical camps for the injured. “There was huge requirement of things and people helped. The nearby villages too had been affected by the floods and we tried reaching out to them too with the help of volunteers. There were young volunteers who moved out of their houses to join Big FM in its attempt to save lives in Chennai,” said RJ Miruthula.

Whilst Big FM Chennai was trying its best to help the flood victims, Bangalore too poured its heart out. “We requested people to give their old clothes and necessary daily items for Chennai and the response was overwhelming. Since, our station is far away, we sent a branded Big FM bus to go through the city and people gave the things that they wanted to,” said RJ Rohit of Big FM Bengaluru. He further added, “Our station was packed with things and we sent three truckloads of commodities to Chennai when the main roads opened for the vehicles.”

Big FM Bengaluru also got some help from the transport sector and volunteers. “People from the transport sector wanted to give their vehicles for help. There were even volunteers who went to Chennai to make sure that the relief material reached the right hands,” said RJ Shruti from Big FM Bengaluu. She further added, “It’s ironical that we fought for water – the Kaveri water issue -- and the same water brought us together. It made our hearts bleed for the other.”

The entire drive at Big FM Chennai was led by RJ Balaji. We tried contacting him but he could not talk to us due to ill health.

Though the radio station went all out for the city it was not easy for them on personal level either, for their lives too had been affected by the rains. “There was no electricity in the station like rest of the city. We had to get a generator in place and that too busted. After that we got another one. Our executive producer literally had to swim till the station to keep it all going. There was sewage everywhere post the rains and we had to deal with it like rest of the city. But, for us getting help to clean it all up was more important that our personal issues. So, we got more volunteers and at the moment we are working towards cleaning the city,” revealed RJ Miruthula.