Tirunelveli rains: Residents await rescue as several areas remain inundated

Rescuers with boats are reportedly struggling to enter narrow lanes with 10 feet deep water.
Roads and houses in Tirunelveli city inundated due to heavy rainfall.
Roads and houses in Tirunelveli city inundated due to heavy rainfall.Twitter/ @thalivarin
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Intense rainfall experienced by Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu since Sunday, December 17, has led to inundation of urban and rural areas of the district. Residential areas including CN Village, Meenakshipuram, Melapalayam, and Palayamkottai located within the Tirunelveli Municipal Corporation limits have been affected adversely with rainwater stagnating over five feet in several streets. The surrounding rural areas including Pottal and Kunnathur have also reported severe inundation. Electricity supply has also been suspended in most parts of the district. 

Hariharan and his family, residents of Kamarajar Nagar, located near the Tirunelveli bus stand, have been stranded in the second floor of their apartment building along with 20 other families since Sunday, December 17. On Monday, Hariharan told TNM, “There is over 10 feet of water on our road, rising up to the first floor of our building. All of us have been staying at our neighbours’ houses on the second floor. If the water level increases further, we will all drown.” 

Hariharan took the help of social media platform X to seek help but the volunteers who contacted him and tried to enter Kamarajar Nagar were unable to rescue them. “The vehicles that they brought are not able to enter due to dangerous water levels. They are trying to bring a boat but the roads are very narrow and the water is too deep. Locals who know how to navigate these streets can only help us. If not, we would have to be airlifted,” Hariharan said.

TNM also spoke to Raja, a resident of Tenkasi, who is stuck with his pregnant sister and five other family members in Magizh Vannappuram in Tirunelveli town. Raja and his family were travelling from Tiruchendur and were forced to a halt near Tirunelveli town since the water levels on the roads were gradually increasing. “Some locals here have taken us into their homes but the problem is my pregnant sister and my elderly mother need medicines. We are trying to contact rescuers to help move my sister and mother first,” Raja said. He added that there is enough drinking water and food to sustain themselves for another 24 hours.

Reports of a portion of a house collapsing due to heavy rainfall in Tirunelveli town have also surfaced.

Rescue work is being carried out by National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) and firefighters among other personnel stationed by the state government. Two defence choppers are also being used by the government to carry out relief and rescue operations. 

A local volunteer from Pallayamkottai who has been coordinating with NDRF and SDRF forces told TNM that areas and houses located close to the Thamirabarani river are the worst affected. “I have received at least 25 calls to help rescue people who live near the river,” the volunteer added. 

Meanwhile, residents of Melanatham, Narikuravar colony, Udayar Patti and Kailasa Puram have taken refuge in schools, community halls and marriage halls. A press statement by the local body said the supply of food and water to these designated relief centres are being insured.

Sudalai, a reporter from Tirunelveli city told TNM, “All the roads which connect the city to the rural areas have been cut-off because of flooding. Even the four-lane highway which connects Tirunelveli to Thoothukudi, which is also an important road to reach the Thoothukudi airport, is completely inundated making it difficult for us to exit the city.” According to Sudalai, the condition of Tirunelveli (rural) might be severe since all the canals, and the lakes have reportedly reached their capacity and are overflowing into wetlands and residential areas. 

In 24 hours, Tirunelveli district recorded 39.12 cm average rainfall, followed by Thoothukudi, Thenkasi and Kanyakumari where 37.96 cm, 20.68 cm and 11.87 cm rainfall were recorded respectively. Moolakaraipatti and Maanjolai in Tirunelveli district recorded the highest rainfall of 61.5 and 55.2 cm respectively. 

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