Vardah, a tropical cyclone hit Chennai on 12 December and created a major havoc in the city. The cyclone, which was termed as ‘very severe’ by the MET officials, was considered as the largest among those that hit in the last two decades. The wind speed marked by Vardah, up to 140 kmph, was last recorded before 1994.Although predictions by weathermen did warn people and saved many lives but,the intensity of the winds took everyone by surprise. Speed of the wind was, deadly enough to uproot the mightiest of trees and turn over of the vehicles caught in the eye of the vardah. The eye of the cyclone engulfed Chennai and created a blanket of rain and wind resulting in very low visibility. The sound of the winds created a spooky effect enough, to frighten people.
As soon as the first warning came in December, key departments activated a software prepared after last year’s floods and containing a checklist of emergency measures. And the government, hobbled by a lack of transparency and clogged communication channels last year, was much more nimble with ministers and top officials actively directing relief work and activating a series of pre-set emergency measures.Satellite images were circulated among people providing them real time information.
The cyclone hit densely populated areas of Chennai and caused severe damage to the old trees,causing a tear and uprooting the green cover of the city. After the cyclone, it is being said that nearly 15,000 trees have been uprooted completely.The city might face problems in the scorching summer months with such a loss of the green cover.
As safety measures ten of thousands of people were evacuated from danger zones identified by government. The strong winds resulted in falling of poles and major power cut in city to prevent electrocution and any threat due to electricity.Initial estimates from the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) said over 30 transformers had been damaged and 3,400 electric posts had fallen.
Although now, the city is slowly getting back on its feet with people coming up front to help and fast move by government officials.Most part of Chennai has power restored except some areas in Tambaram where trees fell on transformers thereby, complicating the situation. But work is in progress in all these areas.
A massive damage to public and private property happened in the city.The corporation helped many people in removing trees and house debris. 10 people have been reported dead due the cyclone.
Schools and colleges were ordered to be closed. While the Chennai international airport suspended all the flight operations due to strong crosswinds, Southern Railway also had to cancel at least 17 train services.
The Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC), that consists over 4000 buses in Chennai city, and Amma Canteens, that offered free food for all on Monday, were the two services that remained uninterrupted amid all the chaos. Following damage to several stations, urban train services too were stopped by Monday evening.