Monday, Dec 05, 2022

Submerged Chennai braces itself for three more days of downpour

Rajya Sabha MPs offered to utilise MPLADS funds for relief and rehabilitation.

chennai, chennai rains, chennai floods, chennai floods live, Chennai rain updates, chennai rain live, live updates chennai, tamil nadu, chennai monsoon, tamil nadu floods People travel on a boat as they move to safer places through a flooded road in Chennai. (Source: Reuters)

CHENNAI resembled a disaster zone Wednesday with torrential rain submerging homes, roads, rail tracks and the airport runway, and defence personnel leading rescue work and distributing food packets in the suburbs.

Schools, shops, factories and offices were shut, and phone and power lines cut as two weather stations of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in the city recorded 249.1 mm and 345.1 mm of rain, respectively.

With heavy rain expected over the next three days, and the death toll across Tamil Nadu touching 197 this monsoon, the state government issued an advisory to private firms to declare holidays for their employees on December 3-4 in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur.

In Chennai, around 2,200 people were rescued from flooded areas by army personnel while the air force deployed at least seven helicopters with two more being moved from Tirupati. The navy, meanwhile, pressed divers and boats into service.

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While suburban rail services were suspended and Southern Railway cancelled 20 trains, airport officials said over 100 flights have been affected since last night with runway operations expected to resume only by Saturday.

Tamil Nadu government officials said over 2 lakh food packets were distributed and over 2 lakh people provided medical assistance. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is scheduled to undertake an aerial survey of the affected areas on Thursday.

The floods also blurred party lines with Opposition DMK chief K Karunanidhi saying that the party “stands with the state government in this time of need and will extend its full support… in relief and rescue operations”.

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However, hundreds of people remained stranded in various parts of the city and suburbs with many hitting out at the government for its “lack of preparation even though Met officials had warned of heavy rains three days ago”.

Services at banks and ATMs were hit and many hospitals faced a power crisis with a shortage of diesel affecting their generator back-ups. By evening, even hotels had stopped offering rooms and communication networks started to fail with no power back-up.

“For the first time in history, the water level of the Adyar river has reached the bridge. This is the worst spell of rains that I have ever seen in this city. We called the police and the Chennai Corporation in the morning to appeal for immediate rescue. But they have not turned up yet,” said R Gopalan, a resident of Vasudeva Nagar in Jafferkhanpet.

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He said more than a dozen families remained stranded in the area.

Among those stuck in the city was veteran CPI leader R Nallakannu at his home close to the residence of Chennai Mayor Saidai Duraisamy. Rescue teams were able to reach him and at least 100 other families in the area only late in the evening.

Most of the Corporation’s helpline numbers were inactive by afternoon. Neither its mayor nor commissioner Vikram Kapur responded to desperate calls, forcing groups of residents to pool money and launch their own rescue operations.

There were hundreds of social media posts offering help and shelter while a mall offered to accommodate those who could furnish ID cards.

The rescue efforts of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Navy were limited to two of the worst-hit areas — Mudichur near Tambaram and the banks of the Adyar river in the city — while residents from other parts of the city said their grievances went unheard.

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“We have not received any specific instructions on what to do,” said P Selva, an employee with the PWD department.

Flooding and shortage of diesel to run generators also affected media houses, with some TV news channels and newspapers suspending operations by the evening.

First published on: 03-12-2015 at 03:45:46 am
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