CHENNAI: J Sasi Kumar, a fisherman of Nochikuppam was sleeping at home when the Mylapore cops came knocking on his doors Decemebr 2 morning. Overnight rains the previous day had resulted in one of the worst floods the city had faced for a long time. Water was gushing under the Kotturpuram bridge and the housing board areas were flooded.
“The fisherfolk agreed to our request without giving any second thought. Six boats with seven men in each of them were in Kotturpuram in less than an hour. We can’t thank them enough. Their boats cost about Rs .2 - Rs 2.5 lakh and they worked without expecting anything,” Mylapore Inspector Sam Vincent recalled.
That was the time when the NDRF and the defence forces were not deployed for rescue operations. The magnitude of the deluge was not ascertained. The city police and the firemen were working in tandem in rescuing the stranded public from flooded localities. It was the fisherfolk who helped in the rescue operations.
Mylapore Deputy Commissioner V Balalrishnan said, “In the first 48 hours before the arrival of NDRF and army, our personnel rescued hundreds of risk-prone people, especially the sick and elderly.” The cops along with fishermen tied up rope chains in areas like Ranjith road, Dandayuthapani road where the water current was very strong and rescued people.
“This proved extremely crucial for the army and NDRF during their subsequent operations,” the DCP added. Meanwhile, the local police had already evacuated the slum dwellers and those living in low lying areas to a safe location.
Speaking to Express, Sasi Kumar was modest when he said, “We were asked to help. We helped. I don’t think there is anything great about it.” As waters slowly drained, the fishermen returned with their boats to their hamlets near the Marina beach on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the fishermen from Nochikuppam were invited to the Mylapore police station where they were served food and provided gifts for their timely help. Timely indeed, as Kotturpuram in spite of being among the worst affected in the floods had only one case of drowning related death.
Mylapore police said that they would arrange for the damaged boats to be repaired and co-ordinate with the fisheries department to get them paid for their services.