The incessant, record-breaking rainfall in the city and its suburbs could reduce this burgeoning metropolis by the coast into islands of misery, but not break the > resilience of its people.
With rivers swelling and submerging bridges and lakes in the suburbs overflowing their banks, several thousands of people were left homeless or stranded in their own homes without food, water and electricity.
The >airport was closed for the second successive day and will remain so till Sunday noon; several trains to the southern parts of the city were cancelled; and with even arterial roads closed partially, buses were off the road.
Suspension of power supply and disruption of telephone networks added to the woes. The record rainfall — 29.4 cm in the city and 49 cm in Tambaram in 24 hours from 8.30 a.m. on Tuesday — coupled with the increased discharge of water from reservoirs around the city hampered rescue operations and paralysed life. The previous highest rainfall in the city on a single day in December was recorded in 1901.
Houses on both sides of Choolaimedu bridge submerged as koovum rises in Chennai.
A portion of a two-decade-old bridge collapsed on the Avadi-Poonamallee High Road near Tiruverkadu on Wednesday afternoon. Water flowing on the channel below the bridge and draining into Parithipattu reportedly eroded the base of the pillars. Suburban train services were cancelled as girders shifted on the bridge across the Adyar, between Saidapet and the Guindy. Water washed away the ballast below the tracks between Urapakkam and Guduvanchery, Southern Railway officials said.
While the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the National Disaster Response Force joined the State Fire and Rescue Services and the police in rescue efforts, the calamity was of such intensity that their combined might was not enough to attend to the number of distress calls pouring through the day.
Adyar river in spate. Here, water is flowing over Varasithi Vinayagar temple near the Kotturpuram bridge, as the floodgates of Chembarambakkam lake were opened. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam.
The Navy has > decided to deploy a rescue ship from its Eastern Command in Visakhapatnam on Thursday. With its helicopters stationed here unable to take to the skies, the Coast Guard is flying in choppers from Mumbai and Goa.
Unfazed by the massive crisis, Chennaiites reached out to the homeless, giving shelter and rescuing hundreds of marooned people via the social network. At places such as Tambaram, Mudichur and Velachery in the southern suburbs and Anna Nagar in western Chennai, people rescued fellow citizens from buildings with submerged ground floors and water rising to the first floors. Displaying ingenuity in the face of crisis, they used makeshift boats made of drums and rubber and whatever else they could lay their hands on to bring people to safety.
Heavy rains resulted in cancellation of suburban train services between Chennai Beach and Arakkonam and Tambaram. Photo: PTI
In many localities where houses near river embankments were marooned, residents moved to the roadsides with families shielding themselves with just umbrellas till rescue team arrived late in the evening.
Religious and voluntary organisations distributed food and essential items.
The rough weather prompted the Labour and Employment Department to issue an advisory to private companies to permit their staff to take a holiday or work from home as was done by many IT companies on Thursday and Friday.
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa would undertake an aerial survey of the affected districts on Thursday.