They swear by the principles of community service. When the city was inundated and people were crying out in distress, these men and women put this commitment on scintillating display. They are members of the Tamil Nadu Home Guards.
True to their motto ‘Nishkam Sewa’ – selfless service to the community – these volunteers, including businessmen and cyber security experts, waded in neck-deep water, unmindful of the possibility of electric shocks and snake bites and saved hundreds of people from different parts of the city.
They turn up whenever there is an emergency. They were of great help in bringing some order out of the chaos following the Mugalivakkam building collapse.
Around 300 volunteers, including women, were deployed for the rescue work.
“When I told my wife I was going to help people, she was concerned. Water had entered our house too. So I had to leave them at a safe place and go for rescue work at A.G.S Colony in Velachery along with J. Sukumar, area commander (South), who is into a tiles business,” said Chandrasekar Umapathy, Area Commander, West Zone, Home Guards.
Mr. Umapathy runs a cyber security firm.
D. Suresh Kumar, a company commander, is a Metro Water contractor by profession. He has been serving the organisation for nearly two decades. “I worked mainly in Sadayan Kuppam locality which was inundated after the Puzhal reservoir was opened. We saved a lot of people using rubber boats,” he said.
Meanwhile S. Murugesan, who runs a textile shop at Tiruvottiyur, is a platoon commander in the Home Guards.
“Many of us were running temperatures fever after having to be water for over eight hours every day. But we continued, for we are here to serve people,” said Mr. Murugesan.
Lack of sufficient rescue equipment was keenly felt.
“We had only two boats. It would be helpful if we got more boats,” said Mr. Umapathy, adding that they also felt the need to improve their skill sets.
“We need to be trained like the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to tackle emergencies,” said Mr. Umapathy.