As some shops finally opened in parts of the city on Thursday, after remaining closed for the last three days, people rushed out to buy essential items. But many had to return home disappointed as the prices of food and drinking water had skyrocketed in several parts of Chennai.
For instance, a packet of milk, which normally costs Rs 20-22, was being sold for Rs 100 while drinking water bottles were being sold for Rs 100 against the original price of Rs 30-40. With ATMs not functioning, many ran out of money.
“I could buy only two milk packets and a few eggs,” said Saroja Shankar, a resident, who walked more than two kilometres to find an ATM but had to return home without any cash.
While some residents who were able to reach the roads managed to get some provisions, hundreds remained stranded in isolated areas. Dozens of individuals and organisations who prepared food for flood victims at various locations faced difficulties in reaching these areas.
Volunteers at a Jain temple in T Nagar had 5,000 food packets ready, but were looking for people to distribute them. “Those who could reach us took the food packets themselves, but we could have helped many more if there was coordination with the government agencies,” said a volunteer.
For those who wanted to prepare food on a large scale for flood victims, the availability of products was also a problem. With the city being cut off from two of its main lifelines, the Chennai-Bengaluru highway and GST road, vehicles carrying provisions were stranded. Vehicles finally started moving on these roads on Thursday.
Wholesale vendors at Koyambedu market, which was also submerged by the heavy rainfall, said they had restored supplies. P Gnanashekharan, a retired school-teacher who lives near worst-hit Tamabaram, said the administration should have ensured distribution of necessary provisions before the rainfall began. “Government responsibility is not limited to announcing holidays,” he said.