Chennai Flood: As Express Saw it

We bring you first person accounts from some of our staffers who are braving the Chennai floods just like everyone of you.

Published: 05th December 2015 03:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th December 2015 02:08 PM   |  A+A-


We bring you first person accounts from some of our staffers who are braving the Chennai floods just like everyone of you. Here they share their stories, experiences and a few bizarre things that they have seen on our flooded streets while on the job and off it — capturing the city’s tragedy and fighting spirit.

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Cut off from rest of world

What is worse than being marooned in this deluge? For a journalist, it has to be being stranded without power to have the TV and computer on, or charge the phone, and without communication network to keep the info coming. It was not survival, but vegetating where news was hearsay that the neighbours spoke. This reporter did make an attempt to get out of the place to reach somewhere with electricity and this information. But that effort was abandoned fairly quickly, after being unsure whether the rising water level would allow returning home at midnight after work. What followed was two-and-a-half days of tedium while the rest of the city was in chaos. — Gopu Mohan


Not quite a deep sleep this!

As the rain gods showered Chennai with too much love, like every other Chennaite I too had my share of woes. Flooded houses are a common sight and my hostel is no exception. On Dec 1, when the deluge started, our bathroom got clogged. Later in the night, when I returned from office, I found the water in the room too. I went to the first floor, but it had already been occupied by the other girls. So, I decided to stay back on the ground floor. To add to the woes, there was no electricity. Besides spending a night in ankle-deep water, another problem was getting disconnected from the outside world. The mobile network had sent my parents into panic mode. Luckily, my roommate’s cell had a signal. — Priyanka Nair


‘Refugees’ keep  fingers crossed

A good indicator of floods in Korattur is the parking slot of MTC buses. If you find them parked at the mouth of the Korattur junction that intersects the Chennai-Tiruvallur Highroad — as I did for the past three days — you can safely assume most parts of the locality are hip-deep in floodwater. By Friday evening, MTC buses were back to their regular shed across a huge canal, since water had receded off all main roads. The milk of human kindness was also on display as volunteers, including those from the RSS, were seen distributing packets of bread and lemon rice. For families living in inundated ground floors, who were fortunate enough to shack up with those on the first floor, hopefully their ‘refugee’ status will end today. — S Suresh


Neighbour’s swachh idea gives us power

The night of Dec 1 was unforgettable. As it was raining heavily, the power conked. Soon, our neighbourhood was flooded and we prayed to God to save our street from inundation. But, around 11.30 pm, when I stepped out to see if our road was flooded, to my dismay, I found it was ankle-deep. I kept a watch all night. The water was at our doorstep. A snake waded through the water. It was around 6 a.m. by then. Suddenly, my neighbour suggested we clear the block which was not letting out the water. Armed with crowbars, we tried to create an opening on the road. There were some protests from nearby locals. But if we wait for officials, our street would be inundated. It lasted for nearly two hours. The water drained out by evening. But the misery did not end. Power could be restored only if our neighbouring street too was cleared. We hit upon a plan. One of the neighbours had a motor. We took it to that street and started draining out water. The water was drained out during the night and power was restored immediately. — C Shivakumar


Some are too kind

Chennaiites, to whom the apocalypse seemed certain, woke up to a relatively less-clouded Friday. But, several needy people could not get supplies like bread and water from shops, though stocks had arrived. Why? A number of overenthusiastic good samaritans had bought these items in bulk to “distribute to flood victims”, thereby cutting off vital supplies to those who went to shops. Queues snaked outside ATMs at several places, but with people coming out with wads of 1000s and 500s, they soon ran out of cash. — Varun B Krishnan


Brushed aside into a deceptive ditch

Some things are just not nice. But nothing is as ‘not nice’ as being nudged off a road into a five-ft ditch by a bus driver. I was on my way from Poonamallee to Pallavaram through the Mangadu Main Road, with completely submerged plots on both sides, enjoying what I thought was the one peaceful drive in nearly a week. A private bus had begun overtaking me, uncomfortably close. But that was normal. What was not, was that the driver managed to swerve slightly to the left — effectively nudging me into a deceptively deep ditch. One moment on the road and the next, completely submerged in murky water is likely to make all but the most steely nerved to lose cool. And so I screamed. For those who might want to try that, rest assured it does not work under water. After a few seconds of sheer panic I managed to stick my head out of water. By then, a helpful few had gathered to pull me out,  and my scooter too. — Jonathan Ananda


Saidapet sails through

Defence choppers and boats came as a godsend to the rain-hit Saidapet residents. People clambered on to roof tops to catch a glimpse of the choppers hovering above. At least two choppers came close to the ground to drop food packets at relief centres, as the residents watched, anxiously and curiously — it was for the first time that many of them saw a helicopter fly so close. If the IAF evoked awe, a fishing boat, brought near Maraimalai Adigal bridge had the people jostling to take it to their flooded areas to save their kith and kin. — Yogesh Kabirdoss


When MTC Bussed in Infinite Joy

Being someone who would spare no cuss words to abuse MTC drivers for rash driving, this journo looked upon them as angels on Friday evening, after being let down by autowallahs and cabbies, not to mention the service centre staff where his four-wheeler has been ramped up for the past couple of days. The journey by foot to the Kallukadai bus stop on the Villivakkam Main Road, however, was no mean feat. With overflowing sewers on one side of the road, he had to be careful to dodge faeces, both of humans and cattle, till he reached the nearest ATM, which luckily had not run out of cash. The ankle-deep water did not deter him from responding to the call of duty and a bit of hop, skip and jump landed him on a pavement opposite a TASMAC shop bang opposite the AGS Theatre, only to be greeted with a bear hug by a ‘sunk’ tippler. By this time, it was half-a-km from home and with a wet footwear, he lugged his feet to the bus stop. And the sight of the MTC bus brought in him the joy that knew no bounds! — Ebenezer Stephen Duraiappah


Ashanthi in shanthi colony

Imagine a brimming lake with road railings at its banks. That was what Shanthi Colony road looked like after it rained cats and dogs Tuesday. By 6 pm, even the footpaths in low-lying areas  were submerged. Water had entered almost all lanes and very few shops were open. Supermarkets were shut by 8 pm. Some hapless customers were seen desperately wanting to buy stuff at a supermarket, but the store manager was heard repeating he had already closed for the day. Street lights were off, and very few people were on the roads. By night, there was a power outage. The supply was restored only on Friday. Some parts of the stretch were free of waterlogging by Wednesday evening, but the whole area looked slushy. No wonder, crowds could be seen only in front of the supermarkets. — Rekha P


Late night revelation: more pain cooking?

Rain has abated, but more pain is in store. After hectic labour at office last night, I was travelling on a specially arranged MTC bus by the company on the 100 ft road, towards Thiruvottiyur. When the bus reached Manali industrial belt, around 2:00 am, the driver was clueless about the direction. Such was the scene, where Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd’s main refinery that supplies LPG cylinders to the city and neighbouring states was completely flooded. Not just CPCL, all major companies in that area (MFL, MRF, Ashok Leyland to name a few) were in “deep” trouble. The refinery was closed last night, which means delivery of LPG refills could be hit  — A Ramasubramanian


Two days and nights  on the terrace

Around 2,000 families in Sai Nagar, Thoraipakkam, have never faced such hard times. Most of them have been on terraces, braving incessant rain, along the 200-ft road for the past couple of days, as the water-level in houses has reached up to 15 ft, flooding the ground and first floors. “We’ve been on the terrace and had to make-do with tarpaulins and plastic sheets to shield ourselves, especially our kids, from the constant rain,” Mahesh, a resident, said. Lakshmi, another resident, complained of food shortage. Her parents, who live at Triplicane, were anxious as they had not heard from her for two days. Finally, the elderly couple reached Sai Nagar by themselves. “Thank God, I was able to see her!” her mother Lalitha, said. — Vengadessin N


A tip to keep your bike running in heavy rain

They say adversity is the mother of invention. Some motorists in the city proved the age-old adage to a t. As any bike rider knows, the biggest worry in rain is water getting into the silencer. To avoid this, the creative motorists hit upon an idea: plug the silencer pipe so that water doesn’t go inside; but, keep the silencer functioning. It requires three items, enlightened a motorist. Two pieces of pipe and a waterproof tape. The idea is to plug the silencer and give it an L shape by connecting another pipe to it (see the picture above). The exhaust would be let out from a safe distance in such a way that water doesn’t get in. All this could be done for just `100. You could also try it out the next time it rains. It does work. — Shiba Prasad Sahu

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