CHENNAI: Considered one of the safest and least floodable roads in the city, Venkatanarayana Road in T Nagar was almost gurgling under water throughout Wednesday night, and much into Thursday morning.
After the incessant downpour on Tuesday and Wednesday, it was a relief to see the non-flooded VN Road on Wednesday evening. Of course, there was water on either side, but nothing that would maroon traffic or require 300-plus families on Thomas Road to be rescued; or so its residents thought.
Nature has her way of toying with our beliefs and assumptions it seems, as residents in the apartment near Thalapakatti Biryani helplessly watched water pouring down VN Road around midnight on Wednesday. Within 20 minutes, the road was well under water, with levels slowly rising.
By 1 am, water began trickling into the parking lot of the building — a first in over two decades. From the big gate, it began inching towards the cars, and within minutes, it was ankle-deep. Residents ran back-and-forth, attempting to cover their cars’ silencers with plastic bags.
Soon, there was silence. No electricity, pitch blackness and cold water splashing a little above the ankles, residents on the ground floor were worried about water entering their houses and moving senior citizens upstairs. But thankfully, the water level didn’t increase.
At 1:30am, as a resident peeked outside her door, she saw that the water had reached the top stair of the ground floor, which was, literally, just inches away from her house. But the water was still, and there was no sign of current.
Thankfully, water didn’t enter the house. It just remained at the top stair. But many residents spent a sleepless night venturing out every 20 minutes to check on the level. Cell towers were shut down by then, and no juice remained in the inverters. They were cut-off from the rest of the world, and that was a scary thought.
The next morning, around 8am, wading through the stinking water, a few residents stepped out to gauge the damage. They claim this was the first time, since the late’90s, they’ve seen cars submerged and an MTC bus stranded, with water upto its windows on VN Road.
Standing on the median, the writer was barely able to make out the landscape, as all she saw was water — towards Nandanam signal, and on the other side with the famous Perumal temple where hoards of people were trying to access relief materials.
The writer was informed that the water on South Boag Road was five-feet deep and over 300 families were stranded. Apparently, SOS numbers listed on social media were useless. “We called all the phone numbers we saw on social media. A few answered and said help is on the way, but where are they?” said an angry resident who managed to swim to safety with his wife, and 10-year-old son.
“There’s water upto our necks. All our belongings are underwater. We heard that rescue teams were deployed, but nobody came for us. Do we have to live in the Cooum to be rescued? My school certificate, ration card and Aadhar card are all I have with me,” averred his neighbour, 23-year-old Valli.
It was utter chaos and it was frustrating that nobody could do anything to rescue them even if they wanted to. Though by evening, much of the water had drained, the writer couldn’t help but feel that rescue was just the beginning of their problems.