On Saturday afternoon, officers at J4 police station in Kotturpuram were surprised when schoolchildren from Kottur High School filed in along with residents from the locality, for what they assumed was a meet and greet session. But the real surprise came when the children and residents presented them with a shield and cake for their services in the locality during the floods, and other members of the group broke into a rendition of Vande Mataram.
"The entire area was flooded, my streets were flooded but through the rain I could see the police going from house to house, shouting out to see if people inside needed help. I want to say thank you," said a student in an impromptu speech.
"The event is the result of a conversation I had with a taxi driver," said Selva Ganatpathy, a volunteer with Action Aid which organised the session along with local 'surprise' event planners the6.in. "The driver had told me all about how the Kotturpuram police sprung into action when the floods hit. When we asked people living in the area they came on board immediately because the police had really helped them in their time of need," said Ganapathy, who was also part of flood relief work in the city. "People always come to the police station with complaints. It's nice to see people smiling and happy," joked a police officer.
Two weeks ago, Mylapore deputy commissioner V Balakrishnan hosted a lunch for fishermen who worked tirelessly to rescue people during the floods. "The moment we called, they rushed to help. So after the water receded and the rescue operations were over we called them to the station for a meal and thanked them," says Balakrishnan.
Sareeta Suganan, who started sending out food to areas in need as an individual before ending up as a 2000-member force dispatching truckloads of chapathis and idli batter, is getting invitations from residents of a Pallikarnai street. " Someone gave them my number and ever since the waters receded they have been calling me to thank me, even insisting that I come over to their homes," she says.
"As volunteers we just wanted to help any way we could, we never really expected anyone to remember or call back to say thank you. But it's wonderful when you hear they are back on their feet. That's thanks enough."