No power, no water and many injured animals, what Vardah left behind.

Vardah aftermath Animal shelters in Chennai destroyed heres how you can helpPeople for Animals shelter
news Cyclone Vardah Friday, December 16, 2016 - 15:01

Uprooted trees, fallen roofs and no power: while timely warnings and proper preparation by the Tamil Nadu government helped soften the blow of Cyclone Vardah, Chennai did not emerge unscathed. 

People for Animals (PFA) and Blue Cross in Chennai are struggling to repair their shelters and support over 1,000 animals they house.

With no power since Monday, the PFA shelter has been finding it tough to clear the debris in their four-acre shelter Atthivakkam Village, Redhills in Chennai. Antony Rubin, a volunteer with PFA describes the scene which greeted him when he went to the shelter after the cyclone subsided.

“Trees had fallen on the building, the roofing sheets had flown off the cattle and horse shelters and even the kitchen. There was no power which meant the motor didn’t work for drawing water. And with the kitchen roof gone, it’s very difficult to cook given the weather conditions right now,” Antony says. Overall, the assessment of the damage caused to property is approximately Rs 12 lakh.

PFA volunteers have been trying desperately to arrange a motor or backup generator to be able to draw water from the borewell for the animals. “We have been told that it may take a week to ten days to restore power here as this shelter is in the outskirts of Chennai,” says Antony. As of now, they have been manually drawing water from the well.

Clearing the debris has also proved to be a difficult task, given that they do not have the means to move the trees now leaning on the campus building. “We are afraid that the building may not support the weight. We are hoping to get a chainsaw tomorrow to cut the tree,” Antony informs.


PFA houses over 1000 animals, including senior horses, abandoned dogs, cats rescued from meat trade as well as cattle like pigs and goats. Fortunately, due to the timely warnings and because the animals could sense the storm, they moved into concrete shelters. 

There were no casualties.

The Blue Cross shelter is located on Velachery road in the city. With 68 trees uprooted at their shelter, Blue Cross General Manager Dawn Williams worries about how soon they can clear them. “Dry vegetation waste will otherwise attract mosquitoes and other parasites,” he says with concern.

Here is a video of the damage caused:

While the Blue Cross team was able to move the animals to the safety of concrete shelters, the animals on the streets outside bore the brunt of the cyclone. By 10pm on Monday, when Vardah made landfall in Chennai, Blue Cross volunteers rescued 47 puppies, 29 kittens, 4 cows, 3 calves, 2 buffalo calves and over 100 birds were found scared or injured outside.

Now, Blue Cross has 11 surgeons and 72 volunteers taking care of the injured animals. “If people were wise and compassionate, they would have opened the doors of their garages and backyards, allowing these animals to take shelter. But they shooed them away,” Dawn rues.

Much of the dry food Blue Cross had in its premises has become unusable now. 

“We are begging now for volunteers to come forward and contribute financially or in kind. We need people to help clear the premises also. So far, we haven’t received financial help although we did have volunteers from Namma Chennai Calling on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Dawn says.

Both PFA and Blue Cross are in need of volunteers, financial aid as well as dry food for the animals. You can find the details to contribute to PFA and Blue Cross in these Facebook posts here and here. You can also contribute to PFA's crowdfunding campaign to repair the shelter here.  

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