Gospel for Asia leaders are calling for intense prayer as relief teams reach out to minister to tens of thousands of families affected by India’s heaviest rains in 100 years.
After being bombarded with 26 inches (660mm) of rain in one day, Mumbai (Bombay) and other parts of western India suffered flooding that has killed at least 1,500 people.
And the latest forecast is for more rain!
GFA President K.P. Yohannan called the floods a “huge tragedy of unbelievable magnitude.” “More than 283,000 homes have been destroyed,” he explained, “and 16,000 villages have been hit.”
“These are people who live in shacks with dirt floors, and everything they owned was swept away.” Brother K.P. said that while the government is estimating that 5.5 million people have been affected, the number could be double that.
The GFA Compassion Services teams—including more than 100 pastors, staff and students—have been joined by dozens of laypeople providing food and other relief services in the face of continuing heavy rains.
“We have already launched relief operations and have set up camps at various locations in Mumbai,” said Pastor Mathew, a senior GFA leader. “Our system and volunteers are already in place. Pastor Sam, area coordinator for Mumbai, and Rev. Lalachan, our regional director, are coordinating the relief operations.”
The teams began by visiting five slum areas in Mumbai. More than 5 million people already struggle to exist in hundreds of slum colonies in the city, and most have yet to be reached with relief supplies. Many areas need medical help, drinking water, food, temporary housing, and the removal of debris and filth.
A dozen churches led by GFA-supported missionaries in the slums were swept away by the powerful flood waters, and one was severely damaged by a landslide when rock and mud crashed into the roof. A GFA relief team will help the local believers repair the church building.
Eight GFA-supported missionaries had household items damaged, lost or destroyed by the rains, and the ground floor of the Mumbai Bible college was under four feet of water. Books and other materials were severely damaged, and the students were stranded on the upper floors for 48 hours.
International news agencies have reported power blackouts and a lack of drinking water in the city, with animal carcasses and human bodies floating in the streets causing fears of epidemics.
Government authorities in Mumbai have warned residents not to venture out of their homes for the next 24 hours because of the predicted additional rain. Traffic has come to a standstill. The army is on high alert, and government relief operations are on a wartime-footing. Schools, colleges and government offices have been closed. The trains and flights are either diverted or cancelled. And low-lying areas remain in great danger.
“About half of those killed in Maharashtra have died in Mumbai—drowned, electrocuted or buried in landslides,” one agency said. The flooding has even impacted the state of Kerala, in far South India, where GFA has its headquarters and seminary.
“Although few people died in Kerala, thousands are badly affected by the flood,” said Pastor Mathew. “Hundreds of people lost crops, houses and property. They have been virtually thrown to the streets.”
“The greatest immediate need in all the flood areas is for food, relief supplies, and shelter,” Brother K.P. said it will cost at least $500,000 for GFA Compassion Services to meet the immediate needs of those whose lives have been turned upside down by the floodwaters.
“In the name of Jesus, we simply must respond,” he declared.
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