CHENNAI: As if the weather conditions were not enough to complicate their work, rescue personnel had to also contend with the lack of drinking water as curious onlookers hijacked every available drop. Water bottles, cans and packets in the area were sold out by 11 am.
Things were ‘dry’ for the rescue workers until help arrived in the form of Rotary volunteers, who along with members of other organizations, brought sacks of water packets from as far away as Valasaravakkam.
Most shops at the site refilled their stock from nearby areas but still couldn’t meet the demand. A nearby bakery sold 50 bottles before noon and 30 more later. Most bottles for sale were grabbed by the crowd and those accompanying politicians who visited the site. “We couldn’t control them,” said a police officer. Several personnel blamed lack of funds and improper coordination between various departments.
Vignesh, a volunteer from Rotary, said the club arranged 20 bags containing 2,000 packets of water. “We couldn’t source water in this area. So, we got it from Valasarawakkam near Porur. We thought 20 bags would be sufficient but all the packets vanished within minutes,” he said.
Another volunteer of a political party said the officials were lethargic in arranging even basic amenities like water. “There is no one to coordinate such a huge rescue operation,” he said.