Chennai airport, "1 December 2015 recorded the highest rainfall in the city of Chennai - a one hundred year record was demolished. Climate change - a global concern - became a rude reality in a matter of hours for this city of 8.2 million. By 1 December in the afternoon, the water in Chembarambakkam Reservoir- 25 km from the city, had swollen to a dangerously full capacity. Water was released into the Adyar River already in spate. This river flowing through the heart of the city crossed its banks and submerged all surrounding areas.
The rains came down for the next two days affecting airports and highways; trains were cancelled - all the slums in low-lying areas went under and thousands fled their homes, watching their only belongings washed away by the relentless waters.
The two Soroptimist clubs in Chennai went into action immediately with National Association of Soroptimist International of India (NASI) President Shreelatha leading the collective response to render relief to the people of Chennai. Soroptimists travelling from Pune carried clothes for the affected, members from local clubs spent hours packing food bundles for the hungry and the homeless. Lita Srinivasan of SI Chennai marshalled her local contacts to process the delivery of bedsheets and blankets. Naina Shah of SI Chennai Downtown signaled her friends and family overseas, collecting $3000 in no time at all. This went to buy grains for the centre where food was being made. Other clubs in India pitched in with monies that went for the immediate relief. Members of Chennai clubs opened their homes for stock collection, for packing food for housing sick people.
With schools, colleges and workplaces closed, the people of Chennai descended into the streets to deliver relief. A huge community kitchen was set up in Aruna Subramanium's backyard. As Director of NGO Bhoomika, Aruna had more than 100 volunteers of all ages working on food packing. She smiled and paid tribute to the community feeling: "You are seeing Chennai at its best. This was just one of the many community kitchens working 24 hours.
Three members of SI Pune Metro East in Chennai after a NASI meeting found themselves stranded for eight days in Naina Shah's house. They were cared for, but also joined in the food packaging relief work. Visiting UK Soroptimist Sue Waters bravely set out to help pack food and deliver blankets.
On display was the power of the ordinary citizen combined with the strength of Soroptimism. The most vulnerable people, including many poor women are most at risk from climate change like floods. For them the impacts are already a daily reality. The UN sustainable goals have slated several goals with the concern of the environment and clearly combating climate change has come with a clarion call.