Tamil Nadu rains: Severe rains pummel Southern Tamil Nadu, triggering floods and chaos

A cyclonic circulation on Sunday has brought very heavy rains, wreaking havoc in Kanniyakumari, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, and Tenkasi.

BySouth First Desk

Published Dec 18, 2023 | 10:38 AMUpdatedDec 18, 2023 | 4:30 PM

Tamil Nadu rains

In a relentless onslaught, heavy to very heavy rains continue to unleash havoc across southern Tamil Nadu even on Monday, 18 December.

A red alert has been issued for Virudhunagar, Madurai, and Theni districts, signifying extreme caution, while an orange alert is in effect for Thoothukudi, Dindigul, Kanniyakumari, Coimbatore, Tirupur, and Sivagangai.

A public holiday has been declared for schools and colleges in Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Thenkasi, and Kanniyakumari districts.

On Sunday, 17 December, the unprecedented rains wreaked havoc in districts including Kanniyakumari, Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, and Tenkasi. The deluge, intensified by a cyclonic circulation, has inundated vast areas, causing extensive damage, and disruption to everyday life.

The four districts bore the brunt of the incessant rain, leading to waterlogged streets, flooded homes, and vehicle stranding. Since Saturday, the region has experienced light to moderate rainfall, which escalated into heavy downpours on Sunday, with some areas recording exceptionally high rainfall.

Also Read: Heavy rain pounds four districts in southern Tamil Nadu

Most affected areas

The impact of the downpour extends beyond inundation, with the Manimuthar dam located in Tirunelveli releasing 10,000 cubic feet of water amid the heavy rains in the district on Monday.

In Tirupur, a flood warning has been issued for people living along the banks of the Amaravathi River as the water level in the Amaravathi dam has increased to 10,000 cubic feet per second.

The consequences are dire for residents of the southern districts, as water has breached homes, landslides have disrupted mountain roads in places like Kumuli, Kampammettu, and Podimettu in Theni, and uprooted trees have compounded the challenges.

A link road to Madurai near Ottapidaram was completely cut off. The water level crossed 4 feet at Ozhuginacheri in Kanyakumari district submerging paddy fields as the Pazahayaru river is in spate.

Residential colonies such as Meenakshi Garden and Railway Colony in Nagercoil were among the residential colonies that witnessed heavy inundation.

The transportation sector is also reeling from the impact, with train services disrupted and cancellations announced for various routes. Trains plying towards Tirunelveli have been halted at multiple locations, including Sattur, Virudhunagar, and Kovilpatti.

Southern Railway said traffic has been suspended in the Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur section, between Srivaikuntam and Seydunganallur, as “the ballast” has been washed away and the track is “hanging” and water is flowing over the railway tracks. Several train services operated via the southern regions have been fully cancelled, some partially suspended and some trains have been diverted.

Kayalpattinam in Thoothukudi emerged as a rain-soaked focal point, recording a staggering 932 mm of rainfall in just 24 hours. This surpasses the annual rainfall for the region and stands as the highest-ever recorded rainfall in the plains of Tamil Nadu in a single day.

Also Read: South Tamil Nadu, South Kerala to expect heavy rains on 17 December

Government action

On Monday, Kanimozhi, Deputy Secretary General of the ruling DMK, informed that emergency assistance is being coordinated in Thoothukudi district, with a dedicated helpline (+91 80778 80779) established for medical and food-related aid through WhatsApp.

Press release with WhatsApp number, X ID & FB page

The press release with WhatsApp number, X ID & FB page. (Supplied)

The Tamil Nadu government has released a helpline number for WhatsApp (+918148539914) for relief and rescue operations in South Tamil Nadu.

On Sunday, authorities responded to the crisis, with National and State Disaster Response Force teams deployed for rescue and relief efforts. Relief camps have been established for those affected in low-lying areas.

The rains and flooding are unprecedented and the services of the Army, Navy and Air Force have been requisitioned, Chief Secretary Shiv Das Meena told reporters on Monday, adding 84 boats have been deployed for rescue and relief initiatives.

Additional boats have been mobilised for regions such as Thoothukudi and the nearby towns of Srivaikundam and Kayalpattinam. As many as 7,500 people were evacuated and housed in 84 relief camps. Through the Common Alert Protocol, SMS alerts were sent to 62 lakh people.

NDRF and State Disaster Response Force personnel, Fire and Rescue Service and police teams evacuated people from heavily inundated localities and housed them in schools and marriage halls.

In response to the crisis, Chief Minister MK Stalin has appointed ministers and senior IAS officers to monitor the situation in districts, including Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Tenkasi, and Kanniyakumari. He urged the public to cooperate with the precautionary measures implemented by the government.

As the rains continue unabated, residents are advised to stay informed about local conditions, follow safety guidelines, and heed evacuation orders if issued. The government’s coordinated response is crucial in mitigating the impact of this unprecedented weather event.

(With PTI inputs)