Chennai, one of India’s largest cities, has been in the midst of a devastating monsoon for weeks. At least 269 people have died since October 26th in some of the heaviest rainfall the state of Tamil Nadu has ever seen. Just this Wednesday, 350 millimeters (almost 14 inches) fell – more than twice the usual amount for the month of December – leaving highways, an airport runway, and numerous homes flooded. The downpour seems to have calmed for now, however rain storms are still forecast for the next few days.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Chennai on Thursday and was reportedly “pained” by what he saw. He has since pledged $290 million in relief funds to the region, which desperately needs assistance. Emergency workers, including the Indian armed forces, raced to rescue 120,000 people affected by the flooding on Wednesday, and more help will be needed as the rains persist.
For areas in which the rains have stopped, waterlogged residences and roadways prevent people from resuming their everyday tasks. Mobile phone services and power supplies have been partially restored, yet transportation remains spotty. There are some trains running out of the city, yet the Chennai airport’s runways were flooded on Thursday, stranding hundreds of passengers. Private jets, however, are said to be aiding in rescue efforts, transporting civilians to Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is gearing up to send 20 more teams to continue rescue efforts in the area, adding to the 10,000 people that have already aided. Representatives from several different government agencies recently met to review procedures for preparing for natural disasters and preventing future devastation.