WITH MARGINAL improvement in the flood situation, Ganesh Kumar, stranded since nine days in Chennai, can only hope that he gets back home any sooner. The private firm employee has kept his fingers crossed as he says, “The rains just don’t seem to stop. I doubt if I can return to Pune any sooner.”
“It is absolute chaos. Although people and the government are reaching out, there are many who are still living on the terraces as their entire house is submerged in water,” said Kumar. Kumar had left Pune on November 28 to attend his niece’s wedding and recalls how people had to wade through water to reach the marriage venue, which was a temple. “I was in the Karumariamman Temple, Thiruverkadu, where the water had entered till the goddess’ feet. The marriage took place with people standing in knee-deep water.” Blaming the town planners for poor management, he said, the storm water drains were inadequate. “The relief operations have been mismanaged. We were at Aminijikarai, near the Coovam canal, with water bottles and old clothes. We were stopped by political parties who wanted to us to put stickers of a political personality before we reach out to people,” said a friend of Kumar.
For another Puneite, Bhama Chandramouli, it has been a harrowing three days when she did not hear from her sister who stayed at Ashok Nagar, the main spot which was submerged in water. “My sister Hema Tyagarajan, a school teacher, had to be shifted by boat to a relief camp. But with no connectivity and dysfunctional helpline numbers, it was very difficult to reach her. Finally, after three days, she called and we were relieved. Even as the waters have receded, the row house, which she stayed in is still submerged and is full of waste. All the electronic items have gone and there is foul smell in the house with the caracasses of animals lying everywhere,” fears Bhama. She is relieved that her sister is safe. The Pune Tamil Sangam too is doing its bit for helping out those affected in Chennai. A committee member S Sekar said that they plan to collect materials — blankets, clothes and other daily items to donate for the relief operations. There are many others who are stranded at the airport and are waiting for flight operations to resume. “We are hoping that things will settle soon and we are able to get back to normal life,” said Rishi Murthy, another Puneite, who plans to head home in another three days time.