Chennai: It appears Chennai is yet to get out of the throes of its December Syndrome. The tsunami (2004), Cyclone Thane (2011), floods (2015), Jaya’s death (2016) and Cyclone Vardah blowing through on Monday were all events that took place in the month of December.
If December 1 and 2 of 2015 were the worst days in the city’s memory, as 50 cms of rain fell from the mother of all storms to flood all of Chennai, December 12 will go down as another day of a natural calamity the city won’t forget in a hurry.
The Vardah’s velocity was its worst aspect as it uprooted trees and electricity posts. And yet, even as winds exceeding 180 kmph were blowing across the city, civic staff and police patrols were up and about checking what they could do to help. While many of them went beyond their call of duty in grappling with problems on the roads, it was Chennai’s brave volunteers who took the breath away.
Coming out on to the streets in batches, these spirited people chopped off branches of trees that were obstructing main roads. Although only those who really needed to be out in such weather were commuting, it was up to the volunteers to keep even those people moving.
Not only did these volunteers clear the main roads of trees, they also controlled traffic flow. Volunteers spanned out to monitor the one-way traffic, stopping vehicle movement on one side of the road to ensure there were no snarls and then alternated the flow to make it smoother than even on normal days.
Using their Whatsapp groups — prepared to fight last year’s flooding — to good effect, the civic staff monitored reports of fallen trees to rush its staff as well as Bobcats and other tree-moving equipment to help clear the main roads....