As the Chennai Corporation was going about its relief and restoration work, Monday’s rains put a spanner in the works. With the unrelenting downpour adding to the problems of a beleaguered city, the civic body had to mobilise additional resources largely to evacuate residents from low-lying areas.
As part of this, a large number of affected residents who returned home last weekend had to go back to relief camps on Monday evening. Following the rain on Monday, water levels rose in the Cooum, Adyar, Kosasthalaiyar and Buckingham canal. Arterial stretches were inundated.
At a press conference in Ripon Buildings on Monday, Social Welfare Minister B. Valarmathi said the number of flood relief camps had been reduced to 23, housing just 2939 residents. However, following the heavy rain on Monday, a large number of residents of low-lying areas started flocking the vacant relief camps in the evening.
“We returned home on Sunday after staying at the Corporation Model School in Nungambakkam for nine days. Officials asked us to leave the relief centre on Sunday. They said schools will reopen this week. But we returned to the relief centre after the water level rose in our house located on the banks of the Cooum, on Monday,” said P. Ezhilarasi, a resident of Thideer Nagar opposite Lalit Kala Akademi Regional Centre on Greams Road.
Over 1500 residents residing along the banks of the Cooum have returned to relief centres such as Chennai Corporation School on Model School Road, ICDS Centre on Greams Road, St. Antony’s School, LLA Building, Anna Salai and Police Boys Club in Nungambakkam.
On Sunday, residents of marooned areas cleaned their flooded houses along the banks of waterways such as Cooum, in the hope of inhabiting them again. However, most of these neighbourhoods were inundated again on Monday.
“We have resumed supplying food to residents. With the Cooum flooded again, more residents are expected to turn up at night. We have requested the officials to be on alert,” said U. Karpagam, Corporation councillor of ward 111.
Corporation Commissioner Vikram Kapur said additional relief centres in all zones were “kept in readiness in case people need to be shifted tonight due to heavy rain.”
Late on Monday night, local political party functionaries were at work, taking affected residents in low-lying areas along rivers to safer locations.
Salai M. Umapathy, a local functionary of AIADMK, said schools, community halls and other buildings in Nungambakkam were readied on Monday evening to house at least 10,000 residents from areas along the Cooum.
Owing to recurrence of flooding along the Cooum, residents also started requesting alternative housing in nearby areas without affecting their livelihood. R. Amlu, a resident of Thideer Nagar on Greams Road, stressed the need for alternative houses for them in nearby areas.
“I have not been able to study for the semester examinations for the past ten days. I am doing my engineering at St. Joseph’s College of Engineering. The alternative houses proposed to be offered to us by the government in Perumbakkam may also lead to similar situations and therefore affect my studies. So I am worried,” she said.
R. Ponkodi, a resident of Thideer Nagar, said her neighbour Raniammal (61) died on Sunday at the relief camp in Police Boys Club on Greams Road. After flooding on Monday, hundreds of residents of Rangoon Street rushed to LLA Building, which affected operations of Deivanaeya Paavanar Library.
Relief camps functioned in areas such as Tondiarpet, Nungambakkam, Aminjikarai, Villivakkam, Sholinganalluar and Neelankarai.
Many affected residents, who returned home last weekend, had to go back to relief camps on Monday evening