Chennai floods: Officials turn a Nelson’s eye as Semmencherry residents are left to fend for themselves

The residents of Semmencherry Housing Board are suffering without power, communication facilities; and other essentials.

ByLaasya Shekhar

Published Dec 07, 2023 | 1:00 PMUpdated Dec 07, 2023 | 1:51 PM

Chennai floods: Officials turn a Nelson’s eye as Semmencherry residents are left to fend for themselves

The usually quiet streets in Semmencherry Housing Board reverberate with the laughter of children, who have turned the waterlogged area into swimming pools.

Adults, however, are a worried lot. Uncertainty has cast its shadow over the area, devoid of power for the past three days, even after Cyclone Michaung had fizzled out.

“Our homes are flooded. There has been no power for the past three days,” Jennifer, a resident of I block, told South First when we visited the place.

Related: Vyasarpadi suffers as government support falters in North Chennai

Day 3 being inundated

Situated close to the Thazhambur lake, the locality has been submerged for the past three consecutive days. The absence of officials compounded the residents’ distress, leaving them stranded without essential resources.

Chennai floods

Semmencherry: Women undertake their daily washing in the flood waters. (Laasya Shekhar/South First)

“We didn’t expect this. No one has helped us. Things would have been better if the state government or the local government officials had contacted us,” she told South First.

The residents of Semmencherry Housing Board, originally relocated from 23 slum pockets of Chennai in 2006, predominantly work in the city’s unorganised sector.

Commuting over 30 km each way to their workplaces, the torrential rains have not only inundated their homes but also left them penniless.

“I could earn only if I could take my autorickshaw out. With no earnings and no means to escape the water, we are stranded,” Dinesh Kumar, an auto driver, said.

“I have been residing here for the past 12 years. There has been torrential rainfall many times. But, no politician or official came for inspection this time. We don’t have food,” another resident, Divya, lamented.

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Related: Meet the man who braved Cyclone Michaung to travel 200 km — all to save a 2-year-old cancer patient

Lacks of essentials

Chennai floods

Semmencherry: While the adults worry, children and youth are revelling in the flood waters. (Laasya Shekhar/ South First)

Even milk has become expensive. “A packet of milk is sold for ₹60 and we have to walk three kilometres to Kumaran Nagar to get it. Since we cannot afford it, we are having just black coffee,” she added.

The recent rains have also weakened the residences, and residents expressed fear that they might collapse. Water seeps in from the roofs of most houses. “I have been sitting on a chair since the house is leaking from all corners. I haven’t slept properly in three days,” R Kala, who resides on the first floor, said,

The lack of network connectivity has further isolated them, hindering communication. The struggles have extended beyond basic necessities, with residents sharing their inventive means of survival. When asked about managing food, a resident responded, “We manage by sharing among ourselves. What else can we do?”

Sholinganallur MLA Arvind Ramesh and South Chennai MP Thamizhachi Thangapandian were not immediately available for comment.