Tamil Nadu

Chennai, adjacent districts grapple with cyclone havoc

THE DAY AFTER: Chennai Corporation workers clear the trees uprooted by cyclone Vardah at Purasawalkam on Tuesday.  

A day after cyclone Vardah devastated Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts, killing as many as 16 people and uprooting over 10,000 trees and several hundreds of electricity poles, the official machinery swung into action on Tuesday in a massive effort to restore normality.

On the outskirts and Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram it would take two days for resumption of power supply. Over 9,000 workers have been engaged to undertake repair and restoration of power cables and electric poles.

Telephone networks and power connections were down in most localities in the State capital. Suburban and Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) train services were yet to be resumed for want of electricity supply.

Workers of various utilities from different parts of the State were deployed in Chennai and its environs.

“As much as 75 per cent of the fallen trees is in Chennai,” K. Satyagopal, Principal Secretary and Commissioner of Revenue Administration (CRA), told The Hindu.

The fallen trees have damaged rail and road networks, apart from electricity and telecommunication infrastructure.

In addition to power distribution towers, transmission towers have been affected.

“It appears that the power system has borne the brunt of nature’s fury,” said the official, adding that the authorities realised the intensity of the damage only on Tuesday morning.

The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) brought in more than 3,000 additional electricity workmen from other places to restore power to several electricity substations and streets.

Apart from staff of the Chennai Corporation, other local bodies, police and fire and rescue services, the administration has taken the assistance of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for removing the fallen trees.

As the NDRF is ordinarily engaged for relief and rescue operations, the State government has secured permission from the Centre. The Collectors of Cuddalore, Thanjavur, Tiruchi, Perambalur, Ariyalur and Salem have supplied mechanised saws along with their staff for expeditious execution of the task.

At least 10 teams of the NDRF were working with the local authorities in clearing obstruction to restore road traffic and electricity in Chennai and Kancheepuram districts, Deputy Inspector-General of NDRF (South Zone) S.P. Selvan said.

He said eight teams, each comprising about 40 personnel, were working with the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board and Chennai Corporation officials here. More than 600 trees that were uprooted were cleared by NDRF personnel and traffic restored over a stretch of 39.5 km in and around the city.

Mr. Selvan said the teams would continue to work with the State officials in restoring normality in residential areas. “Since morning [on Tuesday] we have been engaged in removing trees and electricity lamp posts that fell on the roads or on buildings. Three teams have come from Pune to join the relief operations. Most of the main roads have been restored to traffic…a lot of work has to be done in interior roads and residential areas.”

As for the loss of human lives, Mr. Satyagopal said 16 persons have died: Chennai and Tiruvallur accounted for five persons each; Kancheepuram — four and Villupuram and Nagapattinam — one each.

Schools, colleges closed

Schools and colleges in Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts will remain closed on Wednesday, as power had to be restored and campuses cleared.

A Meteorological Department’s release said Vardah, after the landfall, moved west-southwestwards. On Tuesday morning, it turned into a well-marked low pressure area over north interior Tamil Nadu and adjoining south interior Karnataka.

During the 24-hour that ended at 8.30 a.m. on Tuesday, the observatory at Sathyabama University, Sholinganallur, on the south-eastern outskirts of Chennai, received the highest rainfall of 38 cm, followed by Kattukuppam (Kancheepuram district) with 34 cm. While Meenambakkam registered 20 cm, Nungambakkam in Chennai recorded 12 cm.

(With inputs from S. Vijay Kumar)

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 5:09:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Chennai-adjacent-districts-grapple-with-cyclone-havoc/article16802182.ece

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