Climate Change

Chennai managed to mitigate the impact of Cyclone Mandous; here is how

On-ground arrangement to drain storm water, clear trees, repair power lines and warn people may have helped the city to recover quickly  

By Aishwarya Sudha Govindarajan
Published: Saturday 10 December 2022
People walking through the flooded shores of Marina Beach in Chennai in the aftermath of Cyclone Mandous. Photo: picschennai__

Cyclone Mandous, the first storm to impact Chennai during this year’s Northeast Monsoon, made landfall at Mamallapuram on the intervening night of December 9 and 10, 2024. However, the metropolis and the Tamil Nadu districts in the storm’s path were able to mitigate its impact as they were fully prepared, according to Chief Minister MK Stalin.

Although all of Tamil Nadu’s coastal districts were prepared, Chennai was a little more cautious because the storm was predicted to cross the coast here.

A command centre was set up at the Chennai Ribbon Building, the office of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC), in response to the cyclone warning. Its mandate was to monitor changes in various coastal areas. Likewise, arrangements were made to set up food distribution and community welfare centres.

Citizens were asked to call the control room number 1913 or helpline numbers 044-2561 9206, 044-2561 9207, and 044-2561 9208, as well as WhatsApp number 9445477205 for emergency requirements or concerns during storms and rains.

Some 805 motor pumps were kept ready to remove stormwater in low-lying regions rapidly, according to the GCC. A total 169 aid centres were kept operational to provide assistance to individuals.

Read Down To Earth’s coverage of Cyclone Mandous

The meteorological authority had anticipated that the storm would cross at an estimated speed of 80 kilometres per hour.

Hence, 272 woodworking machines, two vehicle-mounted woodworking machinery, six hydraulic woodworking machines, 45 JCP vehicles, and 115 tipper trucks were kept ready to clear trees and branches that fell due to heavy winds.

People were also cautioned not to stand under trees when the wind blew.

In each ward, a Tata Ace truck and 10 staff members of the GCC were maintained on standby in case of an emergency. Around 1 am, Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi arrived at the abandoned Marina shore to oversee the Corporation’s preparedness amid strong winds. At about 2.30 am, cyclone Mandous made landfall in Mamallapuram, 60 km from Chennai.

Quick arrangements were put in place to remove fallen trees on the road. Due to persistent rainfall throughout the night, only low-lying regions, notably Sembakkam and Rajakeepakkam in Chennai’s suburbs, remained waterlogged.

However, residents in the vicinity claim they are not anxious since the water seeps quickly. Other low-lying regions, which usually remain inundated, did not face such a struggle this time.

“We have already installed stormwater drainage in the previous 6-8 months. That was effective. Water has not stagnated in the Core city region. In other low-lying places where water stagnates, we installed approximately 300 motors to push it away,” GCC Commissioner Gagandeep Singh Bedi told this reporter.

He added that the GCC had stored around 800 engines in areas where water was predicted to accumulate. “Yesterday, the majority of the sites were drained. Following today’s rainstorm, we successfully discharged the water from the waterlogged subways,” Bedi said.

Approximately 300-400 tree branches fell onto the road. They were cleared by roughly 5,000 labourers. 

“We urged our staff to stay home between 12 and 3 am when the storm was predicted to hit. They were put back to work after 3 am. Around Chennai, 100-150 network communication towers were destroyed. We rectified it with the assistance of TANGEDCO personnel,” Bedi said.

There is also a separate network and wifi for Chennai Corporation personnel, which has aided them in receiving information about the hazards as soon as possible.

“We advocated keeping livestock tethered at home as a verbal warning because the quantity of cattle in Chennai is limited. As a result, cattle loss was also prevented,” according to Bedi.

During rainstorms, power disruptions are unavoidable; nevertheless, Cyclone Mandous, which meant the treasure box, did not cause many outages.

Instead, Chennai went black just briefly when the storm made landfall. The electricity department had already warned that there would be power outages based on the speed of the storm winds, so people were forewarned.

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