Chennai, Dec 13: Chennai residents woke up to uprooted trees/big branches blocking the roads, fallen name boards and hoardings, damaged walls and vehicles under fallen trees, power cuts and lack of milk supplies on Tuesday, a day after Cyclone Vardah ripped through the city and killed 16.
The cyclone also damaged over 7,000 huts and power infrastructure with Tamil Nadu government asking for Rs 1,000 crore for relief and reconstruction.
While the cyclone-hit residents have now become accustomed to closed ATMs, it was a rude shock to many when hoteliers and shopkeepers declined to accept card payments citing non-working point of sale terminals owing to network failure.
“There was no power at home and no milk. So we decided to go to a hotel and have brunch. However the hotel said they are not accepting card payments as the swipe machine was not working. We had to come back home to have a home-cooked meal,” K. Muralidharan, a public sector employee told IANS.
Similar was the experience of V.Revathi, a home maker who had to pay up the scarce cash she had when she had to purchase a bucket and a rope to draw water from her well as the power was not there.
“The central government must think of natural calamities when taking major decisions that have large impact on people like demonitisation. There is neither real money nor plastic money with us,” P. Kumar, a private sector employee, told IANS.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam in a late night statement said the cyclone killed 16 and announced a solatium of Rs 400,000 each to their families.
He had also requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to release a sum of Rs.1,000 crore as “on account payment” from the National Disaster Response Fund for relief and reconstruction activities.
Panneerselvam told Modi that more than 10,000 electric poles have been mangled and more than 800 transformers damaged in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur districts.
People in the residential localities after being awed by the damage caused by the cyclone started cleaning their compound of fallen trees, leaves and other muck that was blown by the cyclonic winds.
“It is as if we are in the midst of a forest,” quipped A. Viswanath, a businessman surveying the fallen trees in his locality.
Over 12,000 trees were felled by cyclone in Chennai and its suburbs. In the Chennai city alone it was over 4,000 trees.
Panneerselvam said conservancy staff from other districts have been brought to clear the trees and other garbage.
In a statement issued on Monday, Panneerselvam said over 4,000 trees fell.
According to citizens, the number could be much more if one takes into account the trees inside the residential compounds and the parks.
Meanwhile the municipal corporation is also removing the fallen trees from roads.
In areas not reached by corporation officials, residents themselves cut the branches of fallen trees creating space for movement on the roads.
Around 200 students of Ramakrishna Mission Home here actively lent an helping hand to the residents of different localities by clearing the trees fallen on the roads.
“Divided into small groups, we went to different localities and cleared the roads of fallen trees,” a student told IANS.
The student group that IANS met were very enthusiastic about their mission, with one of them eagerly detailing the work they had done since morning.
While bus services were resumed, it would take some more time for the services to become normal as the routes have to be cleared of trees.
At the spot where former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa was buried at the Marina beach, the canopy remained intact despite the cyclonic winds.
Several sand bags were lined up surrounding the burial spot to prevent flooding.
The burial place continued to get stream of visitors from early morning.
The cyclone has affected power generation at North Chennai Thermal Power Station’s (NCTPS) 600 MW Unit 1, the Power System Operation Corporation Ltd (POSOCO) said.
According to POSOCO, two other units of NCTPS (one 600 MW and another 210 MW) went out of operation on Monday, and it is not known when they will resume generation.
The NCTPS Unit 1 was hand tripped due to heavy winds on Monday morning while the second 600 MW unit stopped due to electrical problem.
The reason for stoppage of 210 MW unit at NCTPS is awaited, said POSOCO.
Similarly, the two 220 MW units at Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS), too, stopped operating on Monday evening due to tripping of power evacuation lines, POSOCO said.
In a statement, MAPS Station Director R.Satyanarayana said that due to high speed cyclonic wind, the 230 KV power lines tripped one after another.
“As power evacuation from station was not possible, both the units were tripped and brought to safe shut down state,” he said, adding that in three days, both the units would be brought back to service once the 230 KV power lines are normalised.
In the evening however, power supply was restored in some localities in Chennai.
Cyclone Vardah is the first natural disaster after O. Panneerselvam took over as the state Chief Minister and the administration seems to have passed the acid test, people felt.