Chennai Floods -- Two Months Later: How a City Bounced Back

Story highlights

  • At least 272 people died from the flood waters in Chennai.
  • Chennai had record breaking rainfall with nearly 16 inches in just a 2 day period
  • Some of the hardest hit places were the slum areas like Saidapet

Many people are inspired by news coverage to make an an impact. Recently, one of CNN's own returned to his homeland to try to make a difference after deadly flooding. This is his story. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author.

(CNN)It's been a little more than two months since heavy rains flooded the southern Indian city of Chennai. Roads turned into rivers and thousands were trapped in the dark. In early December, the city could count nearly 16 inches of rain in just a two-day period, according to CNN weather. Between October and December, at least 272 people died in Chennai from one of the worst floods in over a century, according to the National Disaster Response Force.

The story hit close to home for me. I was born in Chennai and my parents grew up there. Family members sent updates on the devastation. It was difficult to see the places and areas I visited as a child in ruins.
I wanted to help. I mined social media and asked people to send in pictures and video. I was flooded with stories of heroism and survival. I set up a fundraising page in Atlanta and raised $9,000 through crowdsourcing and a fundraiser concert, pledging to go to India on my own dime to donate the funds to those who needed it.
    When I arrived at the beginning of January, I found so many people banding together to help. Several charities set up centers where food was prepared and packed so volunteers could distribute it. It was heartwarming to hear stories where Muslims and Hindus provided shelter and food for each other.
    For the flood relief, one group focused on repairing infrastructure like damaged buildings and schools as well as replacing equipment ruined by rain waters. The group, Bhumi, is an independent youth based volunteer non-profit organization in India whos