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Social media lends helping hand in reaching aid to Chennai flood-hit

Source: PTI
December 05, 2023 20:59 IST
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Submerged in water, with no access to power and transport, it was various social media platforms that came to people's aid in the rain-hit city since Monday.

IMAGE: People use a boat to shift to a safe place from a flooded area after heavy rainfall owing to Cyclone Michaung, in Chennai, December 5, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

Cries of help were forwarded through the night, as Chennaiites, who waded through a similar nightmare in 2015, reconnected online again and formed citizen rescue groups to deal with emergencies.


Some, like the 22-year-old Harsha Vardhan, a student from Triplicane, were caught without even a morsel of food. With rainwater almost rising to chest level, Vardhan said he did not dare to go out and was forced to ask people through X for some food.

“Thankfully, someone got me some biscuits and water immediately. In the night, my father's friend got me dinner, said Vardhan, who recently moved to Chennai to pursue international English language test coaching."

Another immigrant, a 26-year-old from Kumbakonam district, Shakthiguru Radhakrishnan, who works as a driver, found himself in a predicament when water entered his employer's car that he had parked in a corner near Perambur to wait out the storm.

He too took to X, asking for help from officials. But unfortunately for him, none came his way.

Finally, he said, he forced himself to get out of the car in the pouring rain and push it.

Seeing him struggle, some people helped him push it to a place from where it could not float off in the water.

“The real problem for me was getting back home in Thoraipakkam. Nothing worked in that area, so I had to walk to Egmore, take a metro to the airport and then again walk to Thoraipakkam. I started around 4 pm and reached home almost at midnight,” said Radhakrishnan.

People gingerly making their way through water-filled roads became the norm last night.

Some decided to risk their lives and venture out in the pouring rain, leaving a relatively safe area, just so they could ensure that their loved ones were safe.

Like Aamir Khan in Mandaveli, who had to be rescued by the fire service finally.

“I rushed to my parents' house in Mandaveli. I helped them move things from the ground floor, as there was around half-a-feet of water inside our house. Power was switched on at around 1 pm on Monday itself, but we were completely marooned. My parents are senior citizens. We have three pets as well. We were waiting on the first floor of our house when we were finally rescued today (Tuesday),” said Khan.

The intensity of the flooding could be gauged from the fact that it was almost impossible to see the ground or road in most parts of Chennai.

But for the raised road median and some young men walking over it, the road towards Velachery from Madipakkam Bazaar Road in south Chennai, for instance, could have been easily mistaken for a swollen river, as boats criss-crossed the locality to evacuate affected people.

The many residential neighborhoods on either side of the road such as Ram Nagar were completely flooded.

The access to a prominent hospital in the same area is cut off and youths of the locality stood guard at the road's entrance, near a brimming lake, to caution people from outside about the heavy inundation.

Some men equipped with huge wooden logs could be seen helping people leave their houses and in buying essential commodities.

Several men could be seen carrying water cans over their shoulders and wading through water that reached the chest in some residential colonies, some of which are posh.

Vehicles parked in the parking lot in several apartment complexes were underwater. Authorities deployed boats to evacuate people and some managed to leave the place on their own. Several people like Kumaran said they are used to flood situations such as this.

Even with water gushing onto the road from stormwater drains and, in some places even from sewers, people dared to venture out, looking to buy essentials. A couple of restaurants and bakeries that opened by afternoon did brisk business.

Suresh, a businessman from Ramalinga Nagar Main Road, who was spotted wading through water later in the day, said he didn't anticipate such heavy rainfall.

“That is why we didn't buy extra vegetables and milk,” said Suresh.

Residents from the nearby Sadasiva Nagar too were out and about, looking to buy essentials.

“Non-availability of milk is a real issue, we were told it would be made available by afternoon, but it didn't happen,” they said.

Some pockets of Madipakkam that are usually not so vulnerable to inundation were also hit.

Here too water entered homes, especially ones that were in relatively low-lying areas. The scenario was worse in areas like Pallikaranai.

Although many things were under control once the rain stopped, some, like Manikandan and his family from New Kumaran Nagar in Sholinganallur, are still waiting to be rescued.

Even after the rain stopped, the water level in his area is slowly increasing, he said.

“It's almost six feet now as we speak. There are about 30 families here and only one person -- with his child held over his head -- so far dared to go out. It was so scary watching him go. To make matters worse, there are so many snakes in the water. So, we are holding on to our phones, switching them on every now and then to save battery, pushing our case through X, and waiting to be evacuated,” says Manikandan, a 45-year-old IT employee.

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