An arterial road connecting Chennai with Trichy was cut off one-way on Saturday morning after waters from five overflowing lakes flooded the highway as the Chengalpattu district of Tamil Nadu received heavy rain on Friday night.
Traffic was cut off on the arterial GST road near Chengalpattu, 60 km away from the state capital Chennai, after the district on Friday night received 11 cm rainfall. It could be restored after the rain subsided after a few hours.
“The highway looked like a sea. It was scary,” described George, a driver.
“The lakes are overflowing as the surplus water is flowing into the villages. Five hundred families have been impacted. We have reached out to the Collector and he has assured us his best possible support,” added Ravi, a social worker.
A senior monitoring official told NDTV that a series of culverts would be a permanent solution to the issue, and that “it’s in the final stages of planning”.
Many pockets of Chengalpattu were inundated and boats were deployed to rescue the residents from low-lying areas. Around 3,000 people have been shifted to relief centres.
Flood-like situations like these have become a serious cause of concern for the locals as they fear snakes could enter their waterlogged houses.
“The septic tank water has filled our house. Our children can’t go to school. Even snakes come inside the house through the water,” complained Selvi, a resident of Padur at the tail-end of Chennai’s IT corridor, whose house now stands waterlogged.
Another resident, Shanthi, said 85 families from the Irula tribal community were moved to a shelter after her house was waterlogged at midnight.
“There’s a lot of water inside our house. Our vessels are floating. We were safely shifted to this shelter around 1 am. About 85 families from our community were moved,” she said.
Chengalpattu Collector AR Rahul Nadh told NDTV, “Fortunately, the rain stopped in the morning and that helped us a lot.”
Chennai crossed the 100-mm rainfall mark in the season for the first time on Saturday since the 2015 deluge.
“Our many thanks would not be enough to thank officials from Corporation, electricity and public works departments, police and others who have worked amid heavy rains without sleep or rest and have averted loss of life, minimised losses, expedited repairs and have kept the situation under control,” tweeted Chief Minister M K Stalin who reviewed relief work in the low-lying areas of Chennai.
In a message to the government officials, he said, “Amid heavy rain forecast, I’m on the ground with you and I will be with you.”
The weather department has predicted heavy rain over the next two days. Reservoirs and lakes are filled to capacity and people worry heavy rainfall could worsen the situation.