Olsen evaluates India flood recovery

While the world’s attention has been focused on the response to Hurricane Katrina in the United States, The Salvation Army continues to respond, in addition, to natural disasters around the world. In July, a super-sized cyclonic storm brought extraordinarily heavy monsoon rains and massive flooding to a large area of western India. More than 2,000 people lost their lives and thousands of homes were destroyed.

In the aftermath of the flooding, retired western officer Major Mike Olsen was called back to the frontlines by International Emergency Services Coordinator Major Cedric Hills for a short-term assignment in his role of experienced emergency disaster consultant.

“Having been to this area of India four time previously, I was very comfortable in agreeing,” Olsen said.

In one 18-hour period a world record 37 inches of rain fell on Mumbai, leaving much of the city of nearly 18 million inhabitants under water. Several feet of water covered the international airport, as well as nearby slums.

In the neighboring state of Gujarat, more than 600 villages were isolated by rising floodwaters and thousands of homes were lost.

According to Olsen, The Salvation Army responded immediately by providing food to more than 7,000 families in Mumbai and Gujarat.

Major Olsen has now completed his assessment and a commitment has been made to further assist in the recovery by providing replacement home furnishings to 2,000 families in the slum areas of Mumbai. In Gujarat, The Salvation Army will participate in the rebuilding of 400 rural homes. This commitment of an additional $260,000 is made possible by the generosity of Salvation Army units in the U.S.

Local Salvationists are among those who are grateful for this practical help. Captain Vanjare of the Goregaon Corps in Mubai was out assisting others when the floodwaters reached his own home. His wife and child were saved, but they lost all of their belongings. Captains Stephenraj from the Jerimery Corps, also in Mumbai gave away most of their own personal clothing and belongings to families who had lost everything––just two stories among thousands.

Donations for this relief effort should be directed to The Salvation Army’s South Asia Disaster Fund at Compiled from IHQ press releases.

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