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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Post 'Nilam' cyclone - Chennai breathes easy !

Cyclone Nilam was not the deadliest nor powerful as compared to some other – but it did shake the city, if not shatter.  Chennai breathed easy on Wednesday [31st Oct 12]  evening, as Cyclone Nilam moved away from the city after making a landfall at Mamallapuram, 50 km south.

As the cyclone passed by, strong winds pounded the city throughout Wednesday, uprooting nearly 100 trees and creating traffic snarls in several parts. The work of Corporation and Police does need appreciation.  Chennai Port authorities removed their danger signal ‘7’ that had been in place on Tuesday.

The ‘Nilam impact’ also led to power cuts and battered streets. Schools and colleges will remain closed today too.  At the eye of the cyclone, thousands from different fishing hamlets along the cost, particularly in and around Pudupattinam / Mamallapuram areas, were moved to safer zones. Those evacuated, most of them women and children, were advised to stay back in the relief centres until Thursday morning, when the gusty winds are expected to recede. 

Some  localities plunged into darkness as power supply was cut. People so used to TV and Internet squirmed that they were unable to do anything.  In the coastal belt around Cuddalore, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation switched off power in areas where there were overhead cables.  This was done to prevent the overhead cables from falling,” said an official. Although heavy rainfall was expected on Wednesday, weather stations, including the ones at Nungambakkam and Meenambakkam, recorded less than one cm of rainfall till 5.30 p.m. However, there has been copious amount of rainfall due to cyclone impact.  Some repots state that Chennai has so far recorded nearly 85 cm of rainfall against its annual average of 140 cm, thanks to northeast monsoon.

Besides the sad incident where 4 people are still feared missing and one dead when Pratibha Cauvery ran aground, more deaths arising out of Nilam have been reported; it has also  displaced more than 100,000 people in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh said two people died when their homes collapsed due to heavy rain in Nellore and Chittoor districts, and another death was reported from Tamil Nadu state, where a 46-year old man who slipped into the rough sea from a pier and drowned. Sri Lanka reported two deaths earlier from the cyclone.

Cyclone Nilam packed maximum winds of 75 kilometers per hour after landfall but was weakening. State authorities have  turned schools into relief centers in Chennai. The city’s port halted cargo operations, officials said. Twenty-three ships were moved to safer areas.

Fortunately nothing wrong has been reported from Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) at Kalpakkam which was put on high alert on Wednesday as the storm got closer to the TN coast.

Chief minister J Jayalalithaa reviewed the citys readiness and planned steps to be taken if the cyclone disrupted life.

Even at the expected time of cyclone crossing, crowds could be seen at Marina beach where winds were very strong; the sea soil laden with salt could be felt by those of us at the beach.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.


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