South east India has seen further heavy rainfall over the last 2 days. Areas of Tamil Nadu, including the state capital Chennai, are once again fighting floods after a period of heavy rain that began on 30 November 2015. Chennai saw 275 mm of rain fall in 24 hours between 01 and 02 December 2015, according to WMO.
The flooding has caused chaos across Chennai. Power supply has been cut for over half of the city’s neighbourhoods. Train services have been cancelled after tracks were flooded and Chennai airport has been closed with some parts of the airport reported to be under 7 feet (around 2 metres) of flood water.
The Tamil Nadu districts of Cuddalore, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur have also been badly affected. Cuddalore saw 137 mm of rain in 24 hours between 01 and 02 December 2015.
Meanwhile Puducherry saw its heaviest rainfall in over a decade, according to local media. More flooding has also affected Nellore district in Andhra Pradesh. The Hindu reports that one person, believed to be a nurse, died in the floods there yesterday. Almost 4,000 people have been evacuated to safer areas.
4 More Days of Rain Forecast
Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) say that there is more rain to come. Their forecasting centre today said that “Heavy to very heavy rainfall (up to 244 mm) at isolated places” is expected in Tamil Nadu until 06 December 2015. Similar heavy rain warnings have been issued for the neighbouring state of Kerala for the next few days.
Tamil Nadu is now entering its fourth week of flooding. In affected areas the ground is saturated, the reservoirs are full and river levels high. It seems there is little scope to accommodate further heavy rain.
European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) reported earlier today that a flood warning was issued for Adayar, Chennai following the State Government’s decision to release 566 cubic meters per second of water from Chembarambakkam reservoir into Adyar.
Flights from Chennai airport were suspended after flood waters entered the runway and terminal buildings during the evening of Tuesday 01 December 2015. In a statement earlier today, India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation said:
“At 8 PM yesterday, when the level of water on the taxiways rose to about two feet, the airfield was closed initially for a period of three hours, which was subsequently extended up to 6am this morning. However, by 6am today, the situation had deteriorated severely, leading to submerging of entire operational area in approximately 7 feet of water. All incoming flights were diverted to alternate airfields, except one international flight which was cleared due medical priority.
“During the closure, 12 domestic and 12 international arrivals were diverted on 1st December 2015. 34 aircraft are stranded at the airport. All international and domestic flights to and from Chennai have been cancelled”.
Since then all airlines, including Air India, have cancelled their operations from Chennai airport and the airport is unlikely to be fully operational until early on Thursday, according to Indian media. Thousands of passengers and staff are thought to be still stranded at the airport.
“The biggest challenge is to find a way to clear the inundated airport and main roads,” said Anurag Gupta at the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in New Delhi.
Chennai joins the list of airports that have experienced flooding over the last few years, including La Guardia, Gatwick, Indira Gandhi International and Don Muang Bangkok. Late last month, flooding was reported at Doha’s new $17 billion Hamad international airport.
Rescue and Relief Efforts in Tamil Nadu
Earlier today India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he had spoken to Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister about the current flood situation and assured her of “all possible support and cooperation in this unfortunate hour”.
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said that the current situation is grim and rescue operations are in full swing. Teams from Indian Air Force, Coast Guard, Army and The National Disaster Response Force have been deployed to rescue stranded victims and deliver relief items.
Schools and colleges have been shut in several districts of the state. Many living in flood prone areas along river banks have been moved to safer ground.
The Indian Prime Minister has already offered financial support of Rs 936.63 crore for flood-hit areas of Tamil Nadu in response to a request made by the state’s Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa, last week.
A ministerial team, led by Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, TVSN Prasad, visited Tamil Nadu on 26 November 2015 to assess the damage caused by earlier floods.
Poorest are Hardest Hit
In a recent report on the November floods in southern India, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) say that “Many people in the flooded areas lead precarious, subsistence lives. Some belong to tribal or scheduled castes, which adds to their social and economic disadvantage”.
Last month ECHO reported that low caste communities in some flood-hit areas of Tamil Nadu were not receiving aid and require humanitarian assistance.
P. Dhananjayulu, disaster management coordinator at the Andhra Pradesh branch, told IFRC that most people affected by the floods in his state were already vulnerable.“People are mostly day labourers. If they don’t work, they don’t eat. When a disaster like this happens, they suffer a lot.”
Four Weeks of Floods, US$1 billion in Damages…and Counting
Parts of Tamil Nadu are now entering their fourth week of severe flooding. Several districts of the state have been battling floods since 08 November 2015 when an area of deep depression formed over the Bay of Bengal and dumped heavy rainfall across parts of the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
Late last month the state’s Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa said estimates suggest that the flooding had caused around US$1 billion of damage across the state. After the floods of the last few days, that figure looks set to rise further.
— Brendan Grainger (@Highflyermel) December 2, 2015
— Brendan Grainger (@Highflyermel) December 2, 2015
Photos of November Floods in Chennai and Tamil Nadu
For more, see our post Photos of the Tamil Nadu Floods here.