CUDDALORE:Tragedy struck Periyakattupalayam village in this district with flash floods claiming 10 lives, including eight of a family, late on Monday night. The bodies of the eight victims of 60-year-old Perumal’s family were recovered 2-3 km away from the village on Tuesday. The two other victims were visitors who had come to celebrate Deepavali.
The flood was sudden and devastating. Surging waters in the canal engulfed the village, inundating houses. More than 100 families of the Arunthathiyar community were caught unawares and unprepared to face the situation. There were about 40 houses in the colony close to the canal.
Things were normal till Monday noon. All of a sudden, the canal started swelling with flood water. Within a few hours, it reached menacing proportions.Sathyaraj (25), a resident, said: “As soon as we sensed that the canal was flooding, we alerted people to vacate their houses immediately. Many tried to take some belongings from their houses. In no time, the streets were inundated. And within half-an-hour, the flood water trapped people who had not moved out of their houses.”
The trapped villagers placed their children on concrete slabs inside their houses. “But water kept rising, submerging the slabs as well. Along with friends, I rescued many children and women and took them to safer place by swimming through the flood. Some climbed atop the small concrete houses in our streets,” narrated the shell-shocked youth.
“People, trapped inside the house had to break the windows to climb atop the concrete roof. Those already atop the houses, helped others climb up by dangling their sarees and dhotis,” he added.
On the tragedy that struck the family of Perumal, another youth Manivel (23) said, “The family lived in a hut very close to the canal. Perumal was living with his wife, five children and five grandchildren. When the flood level rose, Perumal’s son Veeramani first took his mother, Amirtham (55), to the top of a concrete house by swimming. By the time he tried to return, the flood had washed away the entire hut along with the rest of the family. Only Veeramani and his mother survived. Two relatives also died.” “All our belongings had been washed away. All the families have lost their ration cards and other important documents. Now, we have nothing left,” said Manivel.
The victims were identified as Perumal (60), Selvi (35), Selvi (39), Dinesh (12), Siva (13), Veeramuthu (9), Marimuthu (11) and Bhavani (5) of a family. Couple Natesan and Pichayammal, who were guests, also got drowned.
According to the residents there was no flood alert. Moreover, they received no assistance from the disaster response team or fire and rescue department. “We rescued ourselves. We could not even inform the officials about the floods as our mobile phones were not working at that time,” said Seenu, another youth.
“After being battered by the Thane cyclone, we have been demanding the district administration to shift our colony to a safer place. We have also demanded pattas for the lands. A few months back, we held an agitation in Cuddalore demanding land pattas and also to shift to another safer place. But, it fell on deaf ears,” he added.
Battery of officers to monitor relief, rehab
■ Senior govt officials from across the State have been sent to Cuddalore district help expedite relief and rehabilitation work
■ Officials from DRDA (Rural Development Agency) too have sent the district to mobilize people working under the MNREGS scheme to assist in relief work
■ For its part, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Generation and Distribution Corporation has sent 2,039 staffers from various districts to Cuddalore to help restore power supply
■ Over 2,000 electricity poles, 64 transformers and 226 km electric wires were damaged in the recent deluge
■ In all, 1,118 have villages electricity supply
■ 275 villages would get regular power from Wednesday
■ In 143 villages, electricity supply was resumed after the rainwater drained
■ Principal Secretary M Saikumar and other senior officials are monitoring the situation