CHENNAI: Several groups of people walking on the roads with packed bags and wet clothes. Shops located on higher areas being flooded with people desperate to quickly purchase food and essentials. These are some of the scenes that anyone who is courageous enough to venture out of their homes will get to see on most of Chennai’s roads.
“Most shops don’t even have bread packets,” said P Reeta, a resident of Choolaimedu. A day after a historic-level of rain (293 mm) marooned the southern coastal city, the city was yet to come to terms with the deluge. On Wednesday, the city received hardly 5 mm until 2.30 pm (from 8.30 am) but that didn't matter as the City was still reeling from the battering it received from nature on Tuesday night.
With a phenomenal 29,000 cusecs being released from the Chembarambakkam lake, the biggest water body around Chennai, most of the residential areas near Cooum and its tributary canals ended up getting submerged. Similarly, a whopping 30,200 cusecs of water was being released from Poondi as well.
“We are moving to a relative’s place. We already stayed in their house for a week and just returned. It is embarrasing to seek refuge in another person’s place for so long,” lamented P Vasanthi, a resident of Thuraipakkam.
But left with no option, people in many of the low-lying areas or in places bordering the Cooum and Adyar rivers are collecting whatever valuables they can from their homes and are making their way to the homes of relatives and friends.
Residents in areas that are completely marooned are being rescued by fire service personnel in trucks and boats.
Most residential areas and arterial roads have been flooded, making several parts uninhabitable. People have begun leaving flooded areas for other cities through any modes possible:
With large stretches in places like Iyyapanthangal and Kattupakkam near Poonamallee flooded and most residences inundated, people in these areas are leaving in droves for other cities. They are heading to Poonamallee from where they hope to take one of the few mofussil buses that are still plying between Chennai and other cities. These people have no particular preference when it comes to their destination as long as it helps them get away from the flooded city.
"I will get the first bus I can to get out of here. I don’t mind where that bus goes as long as it is away from this city. From there, I will then take other buses to Erode," said K Senthil, who has vacated his ground floor apartment along with his four room mates to head back home.
Bus-stops along Poonamallee High Road starting from Kumananjavadi to Poonamallee and beyond are packed with such travellers.
“I think I almost lost my way. All the usual roads I take are either flooded or have been blocked to traffic. I could not even take out my phone and check Google Maps,” says S Karthick, who was stuck at Anna Nagar and looking for a way to reach Nungambakkam.
Thanks to a day-long power cut, the smartphones of residents ran out of battery, rendering them useless. Those who were fortunate enough to have charged phones still couldn’t use them because of the networks turning erratic.
People reaching out to neighbours just to check if they had phones that were charged and and if whether they could make a phone call became a common feature across the city.
Power supply was cut in most areas as a precautionary measure.
The Adyar and Cooum rivers, which usually make passersby shut their noses, turned scenic with waters flowing almost to the brim. The tough times did not prevent people from taking selfies with an overflowing Cooum river in the backdrop. The Choolaimedu high road was blocked beyond the Nelson Manickam Road junction as the Cooum River was flowing over the bridge. The current was so strong that locals said even an LPG cylinder was washed away.
The Chennai Bypass Road, a major thoroughfare used by commuters to get from Tambaram and further south to the northern areas of the city, has been closed for traffic on the Porur to Tambaram stretch from Tuesday night.
While passable on its northern and central stretches, the road, which comes under the National Highways Authority of India, has several areas which are impassable for two wheeler and light four wheeler traffic.
Several truckers on the road were stuck on the highway for over 12 hours as on12 pm on Wednesday. No relief was in sight as a large section of the road past the Porur Toll Gate towards Tambaram was inundated. The water levels were so high that even trucks could not navigate certain stretches.
"We blocked the road past Porur Toll gate sometime around 7 PM on Tuesdaynight and we do not know when it will be possible to re-open the stretch," said a police officer on the spot. Meanwhile, over 200 vehicles, mostly heavy duty trucks and a few tourist cars continue to remain stuck on the road.
Floods in Adyar River
The Adyar River, which was flowing over the danger mark, has seized the vehicular traffic on the Maraimalai Aadigal Bridge on Anna Salai. The bridge connects the northern banks of the river on Anna Salai.
Both the stretches of the bridge were flooded and the locals had deployed boats in the area to rescue the people stuck in their houses.
Rescue operations were started as a team of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team reached spot. The dead cattle, which were washed away by the flooded river, have also been removed.