CHENNAI: It was a day of attrition for the thousands of personnel and volunteers, whose efforts to rescue, rehabilitate and offer relief to the thousands of flood-hit people of Chennai had to weather a few hostile spells of heavy showers right from Sunday morning.
The Chennai airport that shut down in the onslaught of the rains earlier this week, finally got back on track, with a few Air India flights managing to operate with the limited facilities available. Having received the nod from the regulator DGCA, it will resume full operations for all domestic and international operations from Monday morning, said Airports Authority of India.
Runway clear; power back; DGCA gives green light to open airport for night time operations; domestic and international terminals to be operational from 6 am on Monday
Southern Railway is aiming to restore normal services from Monday, to come as a welcome relief for passengers who have been stranded for about a week.
In coastal Cuddalore, however, the heavy pounding continued all through the night till the wee hours of Sunday, which filled up rivers, canals and ponds, and marooned villages, leaving hundreds stranded. With some areas receiving over 16 cm rains, furthering the misery of thousands in the district, 160 Army personnel including doctors have reached there carrying equipment to undertake rescue measures.
Rain relief materials have been pouring in from across India, and even from Indians living abroad. The army personnel, fishermen with their rescue boats and the thousands of volunteers on the streets and behind the scenes refused to let Chennai sink
This included the evacuation of more than 500 people to move them to safer places and provide relief materials like food, medicine and water.
Aavin bought nearly 1.5L litres of milk from other districts, supplied 10.2L litres of milk to the people, Chennai's total requirement is 11.5 lakh litres, it noted.
Relief work by thousands of personnel from the local police and Fire and Rescue services, the Army, Navy and Air Force, and the Indian Coast Guard and NDRF continued unhindered, even as it rained heavily during the morning hours. Showers were reported from all parts of the city and outside areas, with an intensity that raised concerns in the minds of those who were working on the ground. However, it subsided around noon, much to the relief of the personnel, and also volunteers involved in relief work.
Deployment of drones by the city police had helped rescue members of as many as 25 flood-hit families so far, HD camera on the drone provided real time feed to the control room, which was operated by Prof Senthil of MIT, Chromepet.
If not for the Chennai police, the NRI son of an elderly couple living here wouldn’t have heaved a sigh of relief - he could not contact them for days ever since the rains wreaked havoc on the city.
The Railways, however, could not run the three trains bound for Kerala on Sunday due to operational reasons, and also cancelled as many as 10 trains to destinations including Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, frustrating hundreds of people who were desperately trying to get out of the flood-ravaged metropolis.
However, it did manage to operate suburban lines for local trains and also specials to ferry people to other parts of the State. The zonal railways has expressed hope that it would be able to resume full scale operations from Chennai Central and Egmore stations - the two key hubs that cater to thousands every day. The MTC, meanwhile, had a substantial patronage despite it being a Sunday. With the largescale rescue operations almost getting over, the city police have turned to drones to reach into marooned neighbourhoods in search of possible survivors. The expert who is handling the drone is coordinating with the rescue teams so as to deploy manpower only in essential areas.
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Going by the buzz within the volunteer community numbering thousands, the need of the hour now is water, milk and materials including blankets, dress especially women’s clothing, medical professionals and medicines, and sanitary napkins. Volunteers have also pointed out that the waste and stagnant water could raise a serious health hazard. The City Corporation said in a statement that as many as 24,500 workers were on the ground and 120 trucks deployed to carry the waste away from the streets. More men and machinery are being brought in from other municipal bodies from around the State, it said.
Chitra and Mohan just had a child, a darling baby girl whom they named Yunus. How else does one express the gratitude towards a man who rescued them during the floods?
Doctors, paramedics from the hospital were involved in distributing relief materials to the people affected by the flood. Seeing this, Eoukugho who had undergone a surgery and her sister Roli Noloma accompanying her, joined the rescue team.
The weathermen, meanwhile, predicted more showers for the city for the next 48 hours, though with much less intensity. According to Regional Meteorological Department (RMD), the low pressure area over Sri Lanka and adjoining Comorin area off south Tamil Nadu coast now lies over Southwest Bay of Bengal off the coast, allowing relief to the State. “Only some places in the interior districts and the coastal districts might see heavy downpour,” said S B Thampi, Deputy Director of RMD.
If a calamity brings out the best in many, it also throws up unsavoury characteristics among a few, who were seen collecting electronic items out of flooded Saidapet area.
Pooches may just be luckier than their two-legged owners, a boarding facility for dogs on the ECR organised a series of trips to Bengaluru to keep their house guests dry and well cared for.
How lucky to be dry. How lucky to have water to drink, a toilet that flushed. How lucky to be parcelling food and not waiting for it. How lucky to be in my own clothes, and to have excess to give.