Cyclone Michaung wreaked havoc across Chennai and its neighboring districts, inundating the city, causing disruptions in flights and trains, and startling residents with a video capturing a crocodile crossing a submerged road.
The relentless downpour, reminiscent of the 2015 deluge, paralysed daily life, prompting authorities to declare a public holiday and dispatch rescue teams to aid a city besieged by torrential rains.
Residents hurried to purchase and replenish supplies, with a high demand for drinking water. The continuous downpour resulted in power outages and internet disruptions.
Cyclonic storm Michaung, expected to cross the Andhra Pradesh coast on Tuesday forenoon, loomed near Chennai and Puducherry, bringing heavy rainfall. The latest update from the weather office has forecast the likelihood of heavy rains accompanied by strong winds on Monday night.
Transportation services took a severe blow, with numerous trains and flights canceled. Waterlogged roads presented challenges for the scarce number of road users. Operations at the Chennai airport were halted from 9:40 am to 11 pm, with about 70 flights canceled due to incessant rains and waterlogging affecting the runway and tarmac, as stated by the Airport Authority of India.
The Southern Railway reported the suspension of many trains originating from Dr. MGR Chennai Central to destinations such as Coimbatore and Mysuru, offering full refunds to affected passengers.
As a result of inundation, 14 subways in the city were closed, and authorities removed uprooted trees from 11 locations..
Reacting to a viral video of a crocodile spotted in suburban Perungulathur during heavy rains, Additional Chief Secretary Supriya Sahu reassured the public, stating, "There are a few mugger crocodiles in several water bodies in Chennai. These shy animals avoid human contact. Wildlife officials are on the job to prevent any untoward incidents. Please refrain from approaching these creatures."
Residents from severely affected areas, like Perungudi, Ashok Nagar, and Tambaram, shared their experiences of power outages, waterlogging, fallen trees, and transportation disruptions.
Joe Prakash, a resident of the Perungudi, said, "The winds started at around 3 am on the 4th of December and the power supply got cut off and the whole community has been facing power issues due water logging. As the water levels rose even the generator was switched off and we have been without power from 11am till now."
Prakash added, "The water levels rose so high that all the cars had to be taken out of the apartment parking and kept on the road sides."
A residential locality in south Chennai Ashok Nagar was among the badly affected areas due to flooding.
A resident of the area R Ravi said "We have been going around for long to buy drinking water but are finding it difficult as stores seem.to have run out of bubble top stocks. Usual supplier also has not been able to provide."
Another Ashok Nagar resident Sandeep Gupta said " The condition outside is very bad. Lots of trees have fallen. Ashok Nagar's 11th Avenue road is submerged in knee deep water. No electricity in most parts of Ashok Nagar."
Reports emerged of a building caving in at Velacherry in which two people were rescued and hospitalised.
In the past 24 hours, Perungudi in Chennai received 29 cm of rainfall, while Avadi in Tiruvallur district recorded 28 cm, and Mamallapuram in Chengalpet received 22 cm.
The weather office warned of continued heavy rainfall and strong winds in the four districts.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah communicated with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, assuring support from the Centre.
The CM indicated a potential request for assistance in post-cyclone relief efforts.
To manage the situation, the Tamil Nadu government declared a public holiday for educational institutions, government and private offices, financial institutions, and banks in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, and Chengalpattu districts on Tuesday.
Private companies were urged to enable work from home for employees in affected regions.
Despite the disruptions, essential services such as police, fire service, medical facilities, power supply, and disaster response offices continued to operate.
The government deployed ten teams with 250 National Disaster Response Force personnel for rescue operations in affected districts.
The industries department established a help desk to aid small and medium enterprises, while SIPCOT monitored and cleared hurdles within industrial parks in affected areas.
Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi acknowledged the severe impact on eastern coastal districts and assured the deployment of government agencies to ensure public safety.
He urged residents to heed the state government's advice and stay safe until conditions improve.
The central and state government agencies have been deployed to ensure the safety of the people, he said.
"The situation is being monitored by the central and state governments at the highest level," he said in a post on X.
"It is likely to move nearly northwards and close to south Andhra Pradesh coast and and cross between Nellore and Machilipatnam (AP) during forenoon of December 5 as a Severe Cyclonic Storm at a speed of 90 to 100 KMPH," an update from the India meteorological department said.
In Chennai, cabinet ministers Udhayanidhi Stalin and Ma Subramanian visited the affected areas and oversaw the relief activities.
The Chennai airport operations were suspended from 9.40 am to 11 pm. As many as 70 flights arriving to and departing from the airport were cancelled owing to non-stop rains.
The runway and tarmac also remain shut due to waterlogging, the Airport Authority of India said.
According to airport officials, 12 domestic outbound services, including to destinations like Ahmedabad and Thiruvananthapuram were cancelled. Four international services, including to Dubai and Sri Lanka were cancelled by a private carrier.
Three arriving international services were diverted to Bengaluru.
As many as 14 subways in the city have been closed due to inundation, the city police said.
In 11 places, uprooted trees were removed.
Meanwhile, additional chief secretary, environment climate change and forests, Tamil Nadu government, Supriya Sahu reacted to a viral video of a crocodile crossing a road in suburban Perungulathur area during heavy rains in Chennai.
In a post on X, she said, "Many are tweeting about this video. There are a few mugger crocodiles in several of the water bodies in Chennai. These are shy elusive animals and avoid human contact. This one has come out as the water has overflown due to massive rains under the impact of #CycloneMichuang please do not go close to water bodies."
"There is no possibility of harm to humans IF these animals are left alone & UNPROVOKED. No need to panic. Wildlife division has been alerted and they are on the job to avoid any untoward incident #cyclonemichaung #Cyclone #Michaung #ChennaiRains."
At Velachery in the city, a portion of land reportedly gave way, leading to a deep pit and some people were trapped.
Also, a building in the locality caved in trapping some workers. Two people have been rescued and admitted to the hospital, the police said without sharing further details.