Tamil Nadu: No major destruction reported due to Cyclone Nivar
A combination of factors—correct weather forecasting, the evacuation of thousands of families ahead of flooding and a cyclone that weakened—resulted in no major casualty or damage in the state, said authorities.
The very severe cyclonic storm Nivar crossed Tamil Nadu and Puducherry between 11.30pm on Wednesday and 2.30am on Thursday with a wind speed of 120-130kmph. By dawn, Cyclone Nivar weakened as a severe cyclonic storm. The wind-speed further reduced to 80-95kmph gusting to 110kpmph and its intensity weakened as a cyclonic storm before noon while it moved northwestwards, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD).
Three people died in cyclone-related incidents, such as a tree falling and a wall collapse. About 227,317 people were evacuated. “All of them were evacuated before the storm and flooding started. Our precautions ensured that there has been no major damage or casualty,” said the minister for revenue and disaster management RB Udayakumar.
“The cyclone weakened while crossing the coast which gave us huge protection. People also weren’t out during the cyclone’s landfall. Nobody was stranded or washed away.”
Over 1,100 trees were uprooted, besides the loss of cattle and damage to huts. Chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami inspected damaged agricultural lands in Cuddalore, which was one of the worst-affected districts. Banana trees on 14 acres of land were damaged and officials said that farmers who lost crops will be compensated if it is insured.
While normalcy returned in Chennai, its adjoining suburbs such as Mudichur, Tambaram and coastal districts in Tamil Nadu, including Cuddalore, Ariyalur, Thiruvallur and Villupuram remained marooned. People waded through neck- deep in some places where first responders used inflated boats to rescue families to safer locations.
Chennai airport resumed operations at 9am Thursday after shutting down for 12 hours. Metro rail services also resumed in the city and buses that were suspended in seven districts on November 24 also began plying. Greater Chennai Corporation commissioner G Prakash attributed the construction of 1,000km of storm water drains since 2015 as the reason why fewer roads and neighbourhoods were inundated. Close to 4,000 people were brought to 68 relief camps in the city where they were screened for Covid-19 symptoms and RT-PCR tests were conducted.
Surplus water was released from Chembarambakkam reservoir into the Adyar river from Wednesday noon. From the initial 1,000 cusecs, it went up to 7,000 cusecs at 8pm on Wednesday. The uncontrolled release of water from the reservoir had caused the devastating 2015 floods in Chennai.
Electricity minister P Thangamani said that electricity, which was cut off in several parts of Chennai and other coastal and delta districts, will resume only after stagnant water is cleared.
Puducherry recorded 300mm of rainfall from 8.30am Wednesday to 6.30am Thursday. During the same period, Cuddalore recorded 270mm and Chennai 113mm of rainfall. Heavy rain continued in six districts.
Section 144, which was imposed in Puducherry from 9pm on November 24, was lifted after 6am on Thursday and there was traffic congestion due to severe water-logging. “There has been no injury to humans and animals,” said the union territory’s collector T Arun. “We ran coordinated precautions with NDRF, revenue officials, police, air force and coast guard so there was no casualty.” More than 2,200 people were evacuated to 285 shelters on Wednesday night.
The previous cyclone to hit Tamil Nadu was Gaja in November 2018, which had claimed 46 lives and left a trail of destruction across seven districts in Tamil Nadu, leaving lakhs of people homeless. “Gaja travelled over sea longer because of which its intensity was higher,” said former IMD director YEA Raj. “Nivar intensified rapidly at sea in about three days, but for a cyclone to be really destructive it has to be at sea for at least 5-6 days.”
All party workers and leaders were on the field distributing aid to families in poll-bound Tamil Nadu. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin, after meeting people in low-lying neighbourhoods, alleged that the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government had not learnt any lesson from the 2015 floods and urged the state to provide cash relief to flood-affected families.
Tamil Nadu is now engaged in draining out water, restoring power and conducting medical camps to prevent water-borne diseases and infections.