Chennai/Nagpur: Vivek Unhale, working in a bank in Chennai hasn’t been able to go home for a fortnight now. He has shifted to a hotel near his office temporarily. Reason – the apartment complex he lives in is surrounded by water and all access is cut off. He is relieved that his wife and toddler son are safe in Nagpur with her parents.
Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu, is battling its worst rains in a century. Over the last month, the capital city has been transformed from a bustling metropolis of over 4.5 million people to a partly submerged wreck.
Non-stop torrential rains since Monday night pounded several parts of Chennai and its suburbs and Puducherry triggering a deluge completely disrupting normal life as army and navy were deployed tonight in two suburban areas to undertake rescue on a war footing.
The rains have virtually broken a 100-year-old record with one day’s rainfall covering a month’s average also flooded areas in Vadapalani, Valasaravakkam and Nandamvakkam as nearby lakes overflowed into the city. Already 188 people have died in Tamil Nadu due to rain-related incidents, and thousands have been forced to evacuate from their homes. “State police, fire and rescue services, state and national disaster response forces and coast guard are ready to rescue people using boats,” Tamil Nadu chief minister, J.Jayalalithaa, said “Adequate precautionary measures are being taken to protect people.”
Other perils are lurking which no one has a solution to. It is believed that many crocodiles and snakes from a ‘Crocodile farm’ have escaped their protected environment and are not be found. They could be anywhere in the water logged city.
But as the government flounders, ordinary citizens are coming together on social media to either send or seek help. The online effort is similar to what happened in March 2015, when the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir was hit by massive floods. People who wanted help, or could help, used #KashmirFloods to connect on Twitter and Facebook.
Since yesterday, #ChennaiRainsHelp and #ChennaiFloods have become among the most used hashtags on Twitter in India, utilised to offer shelter, food, transport, and even mobile recharges.
Ordinary citizens are keeping tabs of happenings and those less affected are offering food, help and even shelter to the needy and desparate. Two weeks ago when floods had happened the first time around, vegetables had become scarce and house wives were having to make do with what was available adding to people’s misery.
Some instances of how people are using twitter to extend help –
Anyone out there willing to give cooked food fr 250 people? If yes, pls call Angel at 9940693231 @ChennaiRains #chennairains
— Priya Kathiravan (@PriyaKathir7) December 1, 2015
#ChennaiRainsHelp In one tweet, searchable interface:
Accommodation: https://t.co/LYOL0BwC03 Help Nos.: https://t.co/DbmLOHNT1N Pls RT.
— krtgrphr (@krtgrphr) December 2, 2015
Meanwhile, the MET department has issued a warning that next 48 hours are critical and it will rain incessantly.
By the time the rains pass, will Chennai be using boats instead of cars to commute?