In the light of the unforeseen rains that brought the beloved city of Chennai to a standstill, with flooded roads and houses choked with water, and all everyone could think of was to get to their families. The highest rainfall in 100 years has led to snakes and poisonous reptiles making their appearances in a lot of homes, adding to the gut-wrenching fear that has brought citizens to flee their homes, grabbing their immediate belongings and rushing to the nearest hospitable area. Lakes and rivers broke free and carrying a heavy current, entirely swallowed parts of Chennai, and people took to their terraces fearing safety. Gaping manholes the size of craters gave way to the torrent of rains that exemplified its fury and, gas pockets burst with immense pressure on main roads, and spouted water, discouraging vehicles from using the roads.
Schools have been shut for 20 days now, exams have been postponed, and the schools are now functioning as makeshift homes for a lot of people who are stranded. Industries have been severely damaged and top-notch IT companies are floating in water, as staircases are filled with gushing water. Areas suffered power outage for more than 36 hours, in prudence with any mishaps that could occur. Read this!
With buses stopping mid-way on inundated roads, and taxi operator Ola offering boat services, the city is doing all it can to cope with what is happening. Train and air services have been suspended, with the stations and airports being flooded, rendering them non-operable. The Indian Army has taken the matter in their hands and are on a full-on rescue mission, desperately trying to salvage of whatever is left of the capital of Tamilnadu.
Despite the grave situation, the people of the city have displayed an immense sense of belonging in the community. Twitterati across different parts of the city opened their homes for all those stranded and constantly did everything in their power to get immediate access to help for anyone. A Google Spreadsheet has been in circulation with details of volunteers, people offering their homes for shelter, list of organisations providing food, Government and Army helplines. Celebrities tweeted and retweeted any help anybody wanted, which only went to show that no matter who or what, all of us were trying to help each other in any way we could.
Benevolence was at its peak when individuals and organisations credited phone balance to all those in need pro-bono, no questions asked. The most popular cinema chain in Chennai and known for its legacy, Sathyam cinemas has offered for people to stay on its premises. Malls, hotels, even Bistros and cafes welcomed rattled citizens warmly and helped in accommodating and helping anyone who came their way.
Individuals have started cooking at whatever scale they could and hoteliers are mustering up their supplies for providing food packets on a massive scale. My friends, their families and friends congregated and cooked for nearly 500 people, a task which is by no means easy for a small gathering. NGOs are operating in full swing, collecting anything that can be of help to someone else in need-bread, blankets, essentials, and also clean sanitary napkins for women. #RainsInChennai and #RainsInChennaiHelp gathered enough attention to show the Indian Media what was happening here, and twitterati lashed out at their (media’s) sheer ignorance and terrible prioritisation of the country’s national affairs. #YourJournalismSucks was targeted at leading news houses such as CNN-IBN, NDTV and TOI where their top news included an actor’s statement on intolerance, the latest development in a sickening piece of murder and, the inevitable battle between the two major political parties. Hundreds of lives lost, property washed away and the very fact that the army had been deployed was never the concern of the media houses. Post the fury that the citizens heaved over, the central news channels showed some signs of sanity and learnt to be sensible journalists.
Though the Government is probably trying to do what it can do, it could take cues from this calamity and check into the following aspects next time around:
- Raise the levels of the electricity junction boxes, as this seems to be the main reason that the entire city is blacked out. Since the roads have been flooded and people are still walking and driving through the roads, it is best thought to shut down the power.
- Check the storm water drain pattern sufficiently in advance, as most of the water that flows through the roads are murky sewage water. This makes it extremely unsanitary and causes more harm than good
- Declaration of emergency- This one is more particularly important in cases where offices are still crippled by client deadlines and work which cannot wait. In dire times such as these, it is essential to prioritise and indeed focus on safety first
- Build a solid infrastructure and rope in the experts this time.
A major administerial overhaul is looming ahead as this storm has changed the face of our lives in this vibrant city. With all the help that’s coming our way from everyone, there seems to be sunshine at the end of this terrible storm as despondency is lifted from its dark spell.
So many people have been part of this mammoth task! Thank you for being there. Here’s the list (in no specific order):
- Chennaiites (hoots for all of us!)
- The Twitter Community
- The Facebook Community
- My friends, especially Nithish Kothari and his family for their resourceful and timely help (Great job! :))
- The Indian Army
- The Navy
- Actor Siddharth
- Big FM RJ Balaji
- Sowmya Rao (great job on the Spreadsheet!)
- Khusbhu Sundar
- The Hindu
- BBC India
- KEA Weather
- Ola Cabs
- Twitter India
- The Government (State and Centre)
Do let me know if I have missed anyone, I’d be more than glad to reiterate their wonderful efforts here 🙂