As over 8,500 trees lay uprooted on 12 December, the Tamil Nadu civic authorities and the rescue team were in high gear. The uprooted trees have bee removed, the arterial roads have been cleared, and work is on full swing two days after cyclone Vardah tore into Chennai, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur districts before heading to Andhra Pradesh.
The 5,000 electricity polls have been destroyed by the cyclone in Kanchipuram and another 4,000 in Tiruvallur. Close to 500 electricity transformers have been crushed in Chennai by fallen trees.
This has meant no power to a large part of the city. Officials at the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (Tangedco) told Firstpost that the priority was to give power to residential areas and later to commercial and industrial zones. "By tonight, most of Chennai will have power," said state electricity minister P Thangamani.
What authorities are not able to do much about, though is the lack of mobile connectivity in cyclone-hit areas. This has thrown ATMs, banks and POS machines out of gear.
With Cyclone Vardah keeping Chennai offline and frequent power cuts not helping either, the good old notebook came to the author's rescue. She sent images of the pages of her story on WhatsApp.
Upscale supermarkets in the posh Boat Club area of Chennai too are unable to allow customers use their debit/credit cards. "Tower illai" was the constant refrain of restaurants and supermarkets in the city.
Two days after the cyclone, mobile connectivity is yet to be restored. Police, Tangedco and Chennai corporation officials continue to use walkie-talkies to communicate as the mobile network is down. R Shanmugam, 43, a resident of Mylapore, said that he had gone to almost all the ATMs in his area but they were either shut or had no cash in them.
"We had to call in some people to remove the fallen trees from our house," he said. "We have to pay in cash. There is absolutely no cash anywhere. Even bank branches don't have cash. What do I do?"
Those in poorer areas of the city like 44-year-old B Perumal says power is yet to be restored and water has become a big problem. Pointing at his empty wallet, "There is not a paisa in my hand. Due to power cut there is no water. I am not even able to buy water cans," he said.
Perumal said he walked for two kilometres with buckets to find a public water supply point. "I have walked to work because I have no money for petrol and they are not accepting cards. They say their machines are not working," he said.
With demonetisation hitting especially hard, in the aftermath of cyclone Vardah, Chennai is reeling under the double whammy. While Chief Minister O Panneerselvam asking for relief of Rs 1,000 crores, what Chennaiites really need is a quick infusion of cash into their banks and a speedy restoration of mobile services.
Updated Date: Dec 15, 2016 10:14:56 IST