Rains gone, but recovery long way off for Chennai

TNIE spotted people wading through waist-deep water to get breakfast and lunch as relief food packets did not reach them.
TNFRS personnel rescuing people from waterlogged Mudichur near Tambaram in Chennai on Tuesday. (Photo | P Ravikumar, EPS)
TNFRS personnel rescuing people from waterlogged Mudichur near Tambaram in Chennai on Tuesday. (Photo | P Ravikumar, EPS)

CHENNAI: Even as arterial roads were largely cleared of waterlogging by Tuesday morning, many parts of north and south Chennai remained waist-deep in water, with residents forced to haul their children, pets and belongings with them as they tried to move to safer ground.

Parts of Velachery, Madipakkam, Saidapet, Adyar, Pallikaranai and Karapakkam continued to be severely inundated, although rains eased from Monday night. By then, the 24-hour spell of intense rains brought by Cyclone Michaung had done its damage. 

In northern parts of the city, residents in Vyasarpadi, Old Washermanpet and Perambur were stranded amid heavy waterlogging and no power. With the Captain Cotton canal overflowing, nearby streets in Kodungaiyur and Mullainagar became inundated with water entering many houses. The Perambur Barracks Road, which connects northern parts of the city to the centre, had to be closed due to inundation. 

In southern Chennai, families in TANSI Nagar, AGS colony, Baby Nagar, Ram Nagar, VGP Selva Nagar were evacuated by boats by the State Disaster Response Force personnel although residents said the 20 boats deployed were hardly enough.

TNIE spotted people wading through waist-deep water in these areas to get breakfast and lunch as relief food packets did not reach them. With mobile connectivity remaining curtailed, many people were seen engaged in heated arguments with auto drivers and grocery stores staff who insisted on cash payments. Without connectivity, residents were unable to make UPI payments and most ATMs did not have cash. One 26-year-old, who did not want to be named, said even share autos were charging more than `100 for a ride from the Velachery bridge to Guindy. 

Both sides of the Velachery bridge were inundated. Residents crossing the bridge to get to Pallikaranai or Velachery were seen carrying milk packets, that an Aavin van was distributing on the bridge. Residents, however, said this was of little use as they had already vacated their houses and food packets would have been more helpful. 

Kodambakkam flooded for over a week

Raghavan P, a resident of VGP Selva Nagar, said although the rain stopped Monday night, water levels keep rising in their area. 

“We believe water from surrounding areas is flowing here. We requested a boat service in the area but officials said they will come here only after completing rescues on the main road; we were also not offered food. Water is already at chest level and everyone is scared,” he said. 

Residents of TANSI Nagar in Velachery were rescued by boats from noon on Tuesday. Part of the Velachery-Tambaram road was also flooded. In Madipakkam, Ram Nagar, LIC Nagar, Balaji Nagar and Kuberan Nagar were waterlogged. A 71-year-old dialysis patient was among those struggling to navigate their way through the inundated Ram Nagar stretch to reach the main road. 

In Central Excise Colony in Saidapet, water levels failed to recede even on Tuesday morning and residents were packing off to houses of friends and relatives. 

At Rangarajapuram in Kodambakkam, which has been waterlogged for over a week, Cyclone Michaung only added to residents’ woes. Aziz Nagar, Subramania Nagar and Parangusapuram were inundated even before the cyclone. “We did not have power for more than a week. Even in streets where it had been partially restored, it was discontinued,” said Kiruba, a resident of Rangarajapuram.
GN Chetty Road in T Nagar, which witnessed heavy flooding on Monday, was free of inundation on Tuesday. However, major roads in the area, including North Usman Road and Bazullah Road, remain underwater.

While fallen trees had been cleared on most main roads, some had yet to be cleared from interior roads. One fallen tree in Valmiki street in T Nagar cut an entire area from the main road. Street lights are off in key roads like North Usman Road and power has not been restored in many streets. Several streets in CIT Nagar at Saidapet continue to be waterlogged.

Water entered the houses of about 2,000 residents staying along the Buckingham Canal in Neelankarai and Palavakkam and did not recede until Tuesday evening. With the canal filled with water, it entered the houses on Monday evening.

While there was no water stagnation on the East Coast Road (ECR), the arterial roads leading to the residential localities were flooded. About 1,000 houses and over 2,000 families live on either side of Buckingham Canal. “The last time we had water stagnation like this was in 2015. The canal is full and the authorities haven’t opened them up into the sea. The water from the entire city is flowing into the canal. The overflowing water entered our houses on Monday evening and has not receded yet,” said 60-year-old K Prakashan, who was seated outside his house. He said his family moved to a relative’s house while he stayed behind to protect their belongings from thieves. The residents pooled in money for a generator and a water pump but they lay idle as there is no outlet for the water to drain.

Vettuvankani, Injambakkam, Neelankarai and Palavakkam did not have electricity since early Monday morning. A family of five with two children and an elderly person had planned to leave the city but couldn’t as water entered their house to about three feet.

(with inputs from Sinduja Jane)

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