Water enters houses; portion of roof of the General Post Office building on Rajaji Salai collapses

With the northeast monsoon downpour sustaining its intensity over the city and suburbs on Saturday, rainwater entered houses in many areas, caused more damage to the roads and severely affected vehicular movement. In the impact of the heavy rainfall – 6 cm in 12 hours – a portion of the roof of the historic General Post Office (GPO) building on Rajaji Salai collapsed.

North Beach police said at 1.30 p.m., the roof of an unoccupied room on the second floor of the building collapsed. The debris came crashing on the ground, with a loud noise, taking those on the busy road by surprise. No one was injured.

The section of the building was damaged in a fire some years ago. There were not many staff members in the building as it was a Saturday, police added.

Of the 6 cm of rainfall, recorded in the Nungambakkam and Meenambakkam observatories, during the 12-hour period ending 8.30 p.m., half the volume was experienced in a span of three hours after 5.30 p.m.

Friday's trough of low pressure extending from southwest bay to westcentral bay off north Tamil Nadu and South Andhra coast persists, said officials of the Meteorological Department. A low level circulation over Arabian Sea also led to the rainfall.

Saturday's downpour wrecked havoc in many areas, including Tiruvottiyur, Madhavaram, Madipakkam, Ambattur, Nolambur, Ayapakkam, Kolathur, Vyasarpadi, Velachery and Kilpauk. It also brought to the fore the problems of unfinished stormwater drain work and the practice of cutting roads to drain out rainwater, including those that were re-laid months after last year's northeast monsoon.

Residents of Mogappair West said that as most of the streets in the locality are heavily flooded, they were left with little choice than to wade through water and reach the nearest bus stop for transportation. “There is no scope for using my motorcycle on such roads. I decided to stay back at home as the rain was heavy,” said G.Thyagarajan, a resident.

Those who reported for work, albeit late, had a tough time manoeuvring the chaotic traffic as most of the important roads have been damaged or remain under sheets of water. Vehicle pile-up lasted for many hours as motorists struggled to negotiate on the flooded roads, many of them cut open for infrastructure projects.

For pedestrians, the uncovered trenches dug for stormwater drain filled with water poses safety hazards. The body of a young woman, who fell into an unfinished SWD in T.Nagar, was found on Saturday morning. Residents of many localities such as T.Nagar, Mahalingapuram and Egmore where trenches dug for SWD have been left uncovered stressed the need to close them to prevent such deaths.

Water discharged from three reservoirs

The shutter of Chembarampakkam reservoir was opened on Saturday as the water level had exceeded 21 feet. The full level is 24 feet. The discharge into the Adyar river was stepped up to 500 cubic feet per second (cusecs) by evening from the initial 200 cusecs.

Officials of the Revenue Department of the Kancheepuram district administration along with staff of Kunrathur Block had issued a flood alert warning in villages downstream , said S.M. Sundararajan, Kunrathur Panchayat Union Councillors from Sirukulathur – Nandambakkam.

Hundreds of residents flocked to witness water being released from the reservoir. There was excitement in the air and some of them applauded when the vent was opened at 11 a.m. Youth had brought fishing nets hoping to catch fresh fish from the water gushing out of the lake. “This is the first time I am coming here and it is a great joy,” said Latha, a homemaker from Anakaputhur.

The water discharge from the water bodies in Poondi and Red Hills had also been increased following heavy inflow. Areas, including Vadaperumbakkam and Kosapur, located downstream of Red Hills reservoir were water-logged owing to spill over from the surplus channel. Officials said sandbags were placed in vulnerable points, including Vadakarai, to prevent further inundation.

Review meeting

Local Administration Minister K.P.Munusamy, who reviewed the steps being taken up to address rain-related problems, said additional motor pumps must be operated to bale out water.

Chennai Corporation Commissioner D.Karthikeyan said water has stagnated in 158 areas, including Pulianthope, GKM Colony, Habibullah Road, Sastri Nagar and Kalki Nagar.

Nearly 100 metric tones of concrete mix was being used to carry out repair works in 169 roads. In a bid to clear garbage particularly in merged areas, four additional lorries are being operated, he said.

Relief in sight

Officials of the Meteorological Department said that the rains would subside by Monday. On Sunday, a few spells of rain or thundershower would occur, heavy at times.

(With inputs from K.Lakshmi, K.Manikandan and Petlee Peter)