As one travels through Velachery and Pallikaranai in Chennai, what is visible are the cars parked on both sides of the flyover. In the residential localities below, the water level is slowly rising. Scarred from the 2015 floods when many had lost their cars to the deluge, residents began to look for higher ground to move their cars to, as water began to submerge roads in the area.
Ranganath, a businessman, lives in Kambar Street in Velachery, where the water is slowly increasing. On the morning of Thursday, November 11, he drove his Baleno car on to the Velachery flyover to park it there. He says that in 2015, water entered his Ford Figo car and the vehicle was completely flooded. He had no other choice but to sell it off. With water levels rising again after heavy rains lashed the city on Wednesday night, Ranganath, who just bought a new car, does not want to take any chances.
“In 2015 itself, I struggled a lot and couldn’t get the insurance money and finally had to sell off my car for a very low rate. This time, I didn’t want to take any risk, so I’m parking the car on the flyover. Depending on the rain situation, I will decide what to do next,” he says.
Surya K has parked his Xylo on the Velachery flyover after the roads around his house in Thanthai Periyar Colony in Velachery flooded, submerging cars parked there. He says that in his neighbourhood, water has entered the ground floor of most of the houses and people have started moving to safer places. “Many people in my area have already shifted out. If water levels in my house also increase, then we too will have to shift. In the meantime, I did not want to risk flood-related damage to my car so I decided to park it on the flyover. I had done the same thing on November 7, when it started raining heavily,” he tells TNM.
Many who lost their cars to the 2015 flood in the city are being more cautious and parking cars in elevated places like flyovers. Like Saravanan, who lost his Indica car in 2015. This time around, as he saw water levels increasing in his neighbourhood, he too decided to park his new Renault Duster car on the Velachery flyover in the hope that it does not get damaged.
Over 15 cars were seen parked on both the Velachery and Pallikaranai flyovers on Thursday, and more residents were seen bringing their cars as they brace for possible flooding around their houses. Since November 7, residents from low-lying areas have started parking atop flyovers. Many worry that as more water from the Poondi and Chembarambakkam reservoirs is released, their areas will be further flooded. On Wednesday, around 5,000 cusecs of surplus water was released from the Poondi reservoir.
Ganesh, who runs the Pasumpon tea stall in Srinivas Nagar in Velachery village, says that in 2015 there were far fewer houses in the low-lying area. Over the years, many apartments have come up. And now, most of these apartments have been flooded.
Ganesh at his tea stall
Chennai witnessed heavy rains on the evening of Wednesday, November 10, as a well-marked low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal concentrated into a depression. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that the depression is likely to cross north Tamil Nadu and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts between Karaikal and Sriharikota, close to the north of Puducherry by Thursday evening.
IMD's Deputy Director General of Meteorology S Balachandran said that Chennai will witness "strong surface winds" ranging between 40-45 km. "People should not venture out unnecessarily," he told reporters on Thursday.