Chennai: The city of Chennai was swamped, but not its spirit. Chennaiites displayed extraordinary resilience and determination in fighting against the unprecedented downpour and the resultant floods that brought the metropolis to its knees.
The city, which had weathered many a storm in nearly 400 years of existence, rose from the ashes like a phoenix within days after suffering the worst natural calamity in decades in the first week of December, 2015.
Power went off, telephones went dead, roads were inundated with flood water, transport came to a standstill and the city was cut off from the rest of the world – but the spirit of Chennaiites remained unconquered. That never-say-die attitude not just helped them overcome the worst ever crisis in their lifetime, but step out of their marooned houses and localities to extend a helping hand to the needy – most of whom were strangers.
Temples, churches and mosques threw their gates open for those suffering – the rich and the poor – and what mattered was humanity, not the faith to which they belonged.
It was the common man’s power, not the administrative acumen or the government’s efforts, which put the city back on track. Youth from all walks of society—the mechanic to the hotel bearer to the software professional to the volunteer—plunged into action, fanning out across the metropolis to look for the needy and provide them with a meal.
The streets went dark as even sub-stations of TANGEDCO, the state-owned power utility, were in knee-deep flood water but the citizens and good samaritans kept the city afloat in the eyes of the people of India.
Social media was put to optimum use when details of those stranded and those in need of help were shared instantly with others to rescue people and bring them to safety.
The country which was weathering a crisis that arose out the infamous ‘beef politics’ and ‘intolerance’ debate had a lesson or two from the Chennai episode: when there is a crisis, it is just humanity that matters, neither faith nor ideology.
Though the men in uniform - the state police, the army and other Central forces - helped the city get back to normalcy - the common man did not wait for the forces to get into action; they rescued people in dire need by risking their own lives; brought food to those starving and even pulling out people from high-rise buildings.
It was “you and I” who brought the city from darkness to light. Chennai showed the way to the rest of the world and one year on since the tragic episode, one hopes the spirit and resilience is still intact....