North Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district was on the brink of collapse on Sunday as a fresh spell of rain pounded the flood-hit region with authorities issuing a warning to people in low-lying areas and forecast of a heavy downpour in the next 24 hours.
Relief work gathered pace in rain-battered Chennai as domestic flight operations resumed and authorities raced against time to prevent the outbreak of water-bourne diseases by deploying an army of workers to clear garbage piles, clogged drainage channels and stagnant water pools.
Over 400 people have died and thousands displaced by torrential rainfall in Chennai and adjoining regions with large parts of the Tamil Nadu capital marooned and rivers breaching their banks to submerge urban neighbourhoods, bridges and buildings.
A government release said around 200 more special medical camps have become operational, apart from the 216 already functioning. Earlier, 92 mobile medical teams were deployed across the city.
But Sunday’s deluge has turned the attention to Cuddalore — located 185km from Chennai — as a large number of fisherfolk remain vulnerable to floods and few relief workers in the region.
Water levels have started receding in Chennai but residents remain apprehensive of another heavy spell of rain.
“If it rains again, then the Cooum river will flow over us,” said Selva Kumar, a resident of Kotturpuram.
The heaviest rainfall in a century has put over a million people in relief camps. Mobile phone and landlines are slowly coming to life again, but services are patchy. Power has been restored to most areas, but many neighbourhoods still have no electricity.
The floods have also pushed up prices of essential commodities, with a bottle of water costing anything between Rs 50 to Rs 100. But supplies have improved over the weekend and buses are plying in larger numbers.
Officials announced all domestic and international flights would resume from Monday and the Railways have also begun operating express services on long distances. Normal train schedules are expected in a couple of days, railway sources said.
As the city’s main station, Chennai Central was not functional for the past week, Southern Railways operated 70 special trains to different locations to ferry 45,000 people. In all, 571 trains were cancelled since December 2, according to a senior railway official.
Banks also remained open for customers in the flood-hit districts of Tamil Nadu as the Reserve Bank ensured banks were conducting their cash-based transactions in a smooth manner and supported the cash availability for lenders from the currency chest.