TN preps to avoid 2015-flood like situation as northeast monsoon intensifies

Tamil Nadu is bracing to face heavy northeast monsoon rain, which started on Wednesday and is expected to intensify in the next few days, especially in districts of Chennai, Cuddalore and Thoothukudi due to a cyclonic circulation over southwest Bay of Bengal close to the Tamil Nadu coast, weather department officials said.

The enhanced rainfall is expected in coastal and south Tamil Nadu from the second week of November until mid- December.

On Wednesday, ministers and bureaucrats reviewed preparedness for the rain to prevent repeat of December 2015 deluge. At the meeting, an official privy to the discussions said that 4,133 places have been identified as flood-prone and 321 as severely affected. He also said 4,714 relief shelters have been made ready across the state at schools, marriage halls and community halls to accommodate affected people.

The government has also spent Rs seven crore for flood mitigation of Adyar river, which along with Chembarambakkam lake was responsible for December 2015 floods that battered Chennai and its neighbouring districts. Officials also said that Greater Chennai Corporation started work in August by de-silting storm water drains (2,500 km drains have been constructed so far), connecting culverts and clearing encroachments along water bodies.

Tamil Nadu relies on the northeast monsoon for its lakes to fill up for water requirements. The state receives an average rainfall of 444 mm between October and December. Chennai’s average is 850mm during the same period. “Including today’s rainfall Tamil Nadu has received around 110 mm and Chennai has got 350 mm,” said Pradeep John, independent weather expert and blogger. Since the northeast monsoon arrived in the region last month, Chennai received the highest single-day rainfall on October 29 “with 288mm of rainfall,” John said. “The previous record was on November 3 with 296 mm.”

Early morning showers left several arterial roads in Chennai and Coimbatore water-logged causing inconvenience to commuters. The water eventually drained since the rest of the day remained dry and sunny. “Early morning there will be rainfall in the coastal areas. During evenings and nights convergence will shift towards the land in interior parts of Tamil Nadu,” John said. Chennai is expected to wake up to rain every morning for the next four days.

A 24×7 control room has been created at the Ripon buildings, the seat of Chennai’s civic body, to take in complaints from public and emergency numbers have been released. Vehicles have been stationed to clear fallen trees including a team that will man the night shift. Some 570 motorpumps have been placed in low lying areas to drain water in all 15 zones of Chennai, 176 relief camps are ready with 44 medical teams. Community kitchens and Amma canteens will function to provide food for those affected.

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