A city with about five million souls was drowning and life went on as normal in the rest of the country. This is the story of many a natural calamity, but when Chennai flooded it hit close to home for many city dwellers. If a metropolis like Chennai can be brought to its knees, so can any city in India.
As we publish, there is finally some good news. The rains have stopped, the Met Department has said the worst is now over and the rivers that run through Chennai—Adyar and Cooum—are no longer in spate. The road between Bengaluru and Chennai is mostly open; the Shatabdi between Bengaluru and Chennai has been running for a couple of days now and a few flights have taken off from Arakkonam near Chennai. The Central Government had announced a Rs 1,000 crore-relief package.
However, many localities are still water logged. While power and telecommunications have been partly restored, a large section of Chennai’s population is still cut off. “My BSNL connection has been my only link to the outside world,” wrote Induja Raghunathan, YourStory Tamil Deputy Editor, in an email on Thursday. (Also Read: First-person account: Chennai floods fail to dissolve the resilient urban spirit)
Relief work in the form of providing food and other necessities is underway with an army of volunteers working side by side with the professionals. However, over 250 people have died and we will know the real toll only once the flood waters recede completely and rescue work is completed.
The financial loss is yet to be calculated fully, but considering Chennai is a manufacturing hub—home to factories of brands like BMW, TVS Motors, and Toyota—the number is expected to be high.The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) estimated that the financial loss due to the rains in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu could cross Rs 15,000 crore. Royal Enfield, which has plants in Thiruvottiyur and Oragadam, has lost production of 4,000 motorcycles, the company said in a statement.
The Sensex was down by over 240 points at close of trading on Friday. According to news reports, the insurance claims could run into Rs 1,000 crore, which will not reflect the entire loss as not many take insurance for property loss. Most IT firms, including Infosys, Wipro, and Cognizant, have a big presence in Chennai and the floods is expected to have a direct impact on their performance. The IT companies have fallen back onto Business Continuity Plans, which means centres in other cities will take up the work load.
But, there have been inspiring stories of regular Chennai residents going out of their way to help each other—instances of people risking life and limb to rescue others, cooking food day and night to distribute to those in need and wading through water to get medicines for others.
Others took to social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to amplify cries of rescue and to pass on messages to loved ones.
Most of us outside Chennai have been wondering how to reach out and help those affected in the Tamil Nadu capital. Organisations like Practo, redBus, and Furlenco have already sent relief material; others like Amazon and BigBasket are working with NGOs in Chennai. (Also Read:Startups rally to help Chennai)
Some, like Bengaluru-based techie Ram Kashyap, have taken it upon themselves to ferry relief material to Chennai. Others in Bengaluru can run a search with #BengalurCares, which will lead them to Ram's efforts, to reach out tohim and pitch in.
Also check out: https://www.facebook.com/ChennaiRainRelief2015/?fref=ts for information on what is required in Chennai. NGO Goonj, which has offices across the country, has started receiving relief material nationally and will be transporting them to Chennai. The materials needed include dry rations like uncooked rice and pulses, over-the-counter medicines, thin blankets, torches and lighters, drinking water packets or bottles, and personal care items like tooth brushes and sanitary pads. These materials need to be dropped off at Goonj centres.
Those who want to contribute money have various avenues. Here are a few:
Wherever you are, even as far away as the Bay Area, you can do your bit for those in need in Chennai.