Heavy rains lashed Nagapattinam district throughout the day on Tuesday only to be matched by sharper and howling winds as if to announce the impending cyclone ‘Nilam’ predicted to cross the coast between Nellore and Nagapattinam on Wednesday evening. There was no respite from rains and the public woes only increased by the hour with the upgradation of cyclone warning signals at the port office.
The administration on the other hand has braced itself to meet any emergency in the event of cyclone ‘Nilam’ wreaking damage to the coast. Vulnerable areas in the district have already been identified and if necessary evacuation would be carried out in these areas. Transport and Highways departments, were put on alert to facilitate movement of people in the event of evacuation of coastal villages.
Earlier, in the day, Veera Shanmuga Moni, monitoring officer, who arrived here on Tuesday, inspected flooded areas at New Nambiyar Nagar, Sellur, Nagapattinam, Thalainayar, Alangudi, Manakudi, Thirupoondi and Melapidaagai. Asked on the extent of damage to standing crops, the monitoring officer said that it was premature to predict any crop damage at this stage.
A review meeting with all line departments, including the PWD, Highways, Public Health, and Municipal Commissioners was organised here at the Collectorate. Speaking to the media, Mr.Veera Shanmuga Moni said that standing orders were issued to all officials to ensure they were available round the clock. According to Collector T.Munusamy, the district was equipped with 21 cyclone shelters, along with schools, and wedding halls to meet potential evacuation.
An electrician was electrocuted in South Poigainallur, taking the death toll due to rain-related accidents to four in the district. Moorthy (33), a private electrician, had climbed a lamp post to mend a fuse, when he was electrocuted. However, the death has not been categorised as directly related to rain-caused-flooding.
A two-member naval crew from Kodiakkarai detachment along with local fishing boats returned after a futile effort at retrieving the body of a dead fisherman and a capsized boat, near IMBL on Tuesday.
The fishing boat carrying four men had capsized on Sunday evening, killing one with another going missing. On Monday morning, two survivors were spotted by a fishing boat and rescued to safety. However, the body of the dead fisherman was tied to the capsized boat and left in mid sea for retrieval. On Tuesday, fishermen with the help of the Naval detachment of Kodiakkarai launched a search for the boat and the dead fishermen, coordinated to have been anchored close to the IMBL. However the sea was too rough and the boats returned.
The port office has hoisted Signal 5, signifying depression between 9 degree North latitude and 82 degree East Longitude. Storm system ‘Nilam’ is expected to move North Westwards to cross North Tamil Nadu and adjoining South Andhra Pradesh coast. According to the port information, stormy winds with windspeed of 45 kmph to 65 kmph would prevail and would further intensify as the cyclonic system crosses the coast.
Radar units shifted
The Air Force station at Kodiakkarai moved out its radar units to a wedding hall in Vedaranyam on Tuesday, following a cyclone warning. However, the sudden movement of mounted radars with trucks with hoisted red flags caused tension among the locals, who assumed it to be a distress evacuation.
According to sources, four to five radar units were shifted out to a private wedding hall from Kodiakkarai to Vedaranyam, as they would be unable to withstand the wind speed. However, when contacted by The Hindu , an officer refused to divulge details on the movement.
The district witnessed an average rainfall of 90.18 mm, with Kollidam registering the highest of 155 mm and Vedaranyam registering 120mm. The rainfall figures for other areas are as follows: Sirkazhi recorded 105mm; Nagapattinam 82.70; Manalmedu 78.60; Tirupoondi 78mm; Mayiladuthurai 68.50; Tharangambadi 63 mm; and Talainayar 60.40 mm.
Kavita Kishore reports from Karaikal
In preparation for cyclone ‘Nilam’, Disaster Management authorities have formed task forces for each commune panchayat and the municipality in Karaikal. The teams will be on patrol duty through the night, said Collector J. Ashok Kumar.
Special attention will be given to low lying areas. Government schools and community halls have been designated as rescue camps in case evacuation is required.
In the past 24 hours, till 8am on Tuesday, the region experienced 99.4mm of rain. All emergencies can be reported to the toll free number 1077.