Almost everyone in Chennai, a sprawling city with over 4.5 million people, had been affected by the devastating floods caused by the torrential rains. The government has appealed to people to contribute to its relief fund, and money did flow in from different quarters, but the enormity of the challenge remains to be assessed. As per the last official count, the state-wide casualty stood at 427, including 134 in Chennai, but from all indications the toll is likely to be higher.
However, as water recedes now from several areas, the challenges of the flood-ravaged Chennai has become somewhat clearer, now - of homeless thousands, the spectre of an epidemic, and the urgency to stitch together badly battered infrastructure, all paint a sorry picture of a booming city till yesterday.
The seriousness of the situation in Chennai can be gauged from the fact that personnel from all three defence services are pressed into relief and rescue work. Heavy floods have battered Chennai’s industrial and business hubs leading to losses that may run into thousands of crores of rupees. The city's IT hub has also faced the brunt. Offices of companies such as Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and others have been flooded leaving dozens of employees stranded. Most automotive companies in and around Chennai have also registered huge losses.
Floods and incessant rainfall cut-off over people from basic services, piles of garbage have been swept up by the flood waters, sewage has entered the homes and where the flood waters have not yet receded, and there lies an unbearable stench. The proven protocol in such circumstances is a combination of surveillance and prevention activities, watching out for the outbreak of diseases and ensuring that the factors that contribute to it are removed. The city authorities have deployed bulldozers and bags of concrete to repair collapsed roads, while several bridges were under water as urban lakes in the low-lying coastal city of six million overflowed. “So far, we have no large-scale incidence of fever and diarrhoea, two conditions that we are expecting at this stage,” explains a senior state health department official, not ruling out isolated bursts of disease because of contamination of local water sources.
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who earlier made an aerial survey of the flood-ravaged city, announced relief of Rs. 1,000 crore for Tamil Nadu, which, he said, will be released "immediately by the Centre".
The Chennai airport was shut till December 6th, in the wake of the battering downpour. However, according to the last media reports – the train and flights services resumed operations on Monday in the city after days of disruption due to torrential rains that left thousands of passengers stranded. There has been an emotional breakdown for thousands in the wake of the calamity. The state board exams had been postponed to January, next year but experts feel students would require enough counselling to get over the trauma of the disaster. The schools will remain close for at least till Wednesday,10th December.