Day after Cyclone Vardah: Chennai residents say ‘December curse’ has struck again | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Day after Cyclone Vardah: Chennai residents say ‘December curse’ has struck again

Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam said the cyclone uprooted more than 4,000 trees but citizens claimed the number could be much higher.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2016 16:08 IST
KV Lakshmana
Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam said the cyclone uprooted more than 4,000 trees but citizens claimed the number could be much higher.
Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam said the cyclone uprooted more than 4,000 trees but citizens claimed the number could be much higher. (Vanne Srinivasulu/HT Photo)

The ‘December curse’ has struck Chennai again.

And that is, to put it mildly, the overwhelming feeling in Tamil Nadu’s capital a day after Cyclone Vardah pummelled the city – leaving millions without power and the economic hub littered with hundreds of uprooted trees, overturned vehicles, snapped power lines and damaged houses.

“Most of the times, the cyclones come, threaten Chennai but veer away to hit other places. But this time, Chennai’s December curse seems to have operated in this act of god,” said V Sukumar, a 65-year-old chartered accountant, recalling the massive floods that brought the city to its knees in November-December last year.

The sun shone briefly in the morning after the tropical storm packing windspeed up 140 kmph barreled through Chennai overnight, dumping heavy rains lasting several hours.

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Sukumar was among hundreds of people who were out on the streets early morning to view the damage caused by what has been described as the worst storm to hit Chennai in two decades.

Worst storm in over 20 years
  • At least 10 people were killed when Cyclone Vardah slammed into Chennai, bringing down houses and cutting off the electricity supply.
  • Most were crushed by trees uprooted in winds of up to 140km per hour, which also cut power across large swathes of southern India on Monday.
  • The meteorological department said Vardah, which forced the evacuation of 18,000 people, was the worst cyclonic storm to hit the capital of Tamil Nadu in more than two decades.

“It is like a forest here,” he said, pointing to the fallen trees on the roads leading to Elliots beach located in the upmarket Beasant Nagar locality.

The entrances to many apartments and residential colonies were blocked by the trees, even making it difficult to open the gates at some places.

Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam said the cyclone uprooted more than 4,000 trees but citizens claimed the number could be much higher.

“It is as if god has planted a forest in our colony,” said Radha Sekhar, a Tamil movie actress.

Watch: In the eye of the storm

Civic workers with hand-held powersaws worked overnight to clear the main roads but it was unclear how long it will take to remove all the fallen trees, many of them toppling over vehicles.

The sun shone briefly in the morning after the tropical storm packing windspeed up 140 kmph barreled through Chennai overnight, dumping heavy rains lasting several hours.

Trade and business bodies estimate losses to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore, said SiCCI official R Ganapathi.

At least four people were reported killed in Chennai but residents said proactive precautionary measures and swift relief and rescue operations initiated by state government minimised loss of lives.

With power cut off since 11 am on Monday, overhead water tanks were starting to run dry.

State run buses began plying on the cleared toads and milk supplies were normal as promised by the government.

Shops and hotels opened shutters in the morning as usual but some hotels refused to accept debit or credit cards saying the point-of-sale terminals were not working.

All educational institutions have been ordered shut on Tuesday as well by the government, which will review the situation later in the day.

(With agency inputs)